On his own campaign swing in Dallas, the president told the Knights of Columbus that “we must address despair,” as the White House announced $188 million in federal grants for faith-based and community groups helping the homeless, the unemployed, substance abusers and the children of parents who are in prison.
The president has promoted a bigger role for faith-based groups in government-funded social service programs.
“I believe government needs to stand on the side of faith-based groups, not against faith-based groups,” the president said to applause from thousands at a convention of the group.
Bush split the Catholic vote with Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 election and has steadily courted Catholic voters ever since, mindful that they represent about a quarter of the electorate. The president met with Pope John Paul II for the third time two months ago, a fact he reminded the Knights of Columbus. Bush’s rival John Kerry is Catholic; the president is Methodist.