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THE LID: The GOP’s Pesky Pope Problem

Image: Pope Francis' Wednesday audience

epaselect epa04804055 Pope Francis greets the faithful and tourists during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Vatican, 17 June 2015. EPA/MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI / EPA

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos...Jeb Bush’s "slow jam" on Jimmy Fallon last night got so much attention that he is considering also doing a "slow jam to fix America’s broken tax system" and "slow jam to stop Washington’s reckless spending and get our house in order." Oh, yeah…

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’16 AT 30 THOUSAND

What do Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Bobby Jindal, and Chris Christie have in common aside from their 2016 ambitions? They’re all Catholic, and that means they’ll at times be at odds with the progressive Pope Francis, whose voice has already been injected into the GOP primary. The most recent example is over climate change and tomorrow’s papal encyclical that will issue a stern warning about the impact humans have had on the environment. Bush has faced questions about it for the past two days on the campaign trail, saying in Iowa today: "I respect the Pope, I think he's an incredible leader, but I think it's better to solve this problem in the political realm."

Pope Francis Calls for Action on Climate Change 2:08

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released in April found just six percent of Americans had a negative opinion of Pope Francis, with 55% of the country saying they have a positive view of the pontiff. Disagreeing with the most popular man in the world is tricky, but Pope Francis would probably have a tough time winning the Iowa caucuses as a Republican. In fact, a Pew poll released on Tuesday showed just 24% of Catholic Republicans believe global warming is caused by human activity. Whether it’s U.S. relations with Cuba, homosexuality or the environment, Republicans will be best served respectfully disagreeing with the Vatican when necessary. What may be ill-advised is saying things like Rick Santorum did when he said, "We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists." It’s especially bad when the pope actually is a scientist who has studied chemistry.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell previews NALEO, a major Latino conference that will only feature one GOP presidential candidate.
  • South Carolina Republicans have become the latest group to criticize the GOP debate process.
  • Bernie-mentum is sweeping the nation, kind of, First Read writes.
  • More on that here for visual learners.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

BIDEN: He has not ruled out a 2016 run, writes U.S. News & World Report.

RUBIO: A Quinnipiac poll finds Rubio as the best GOP candidate to take on Clinton in a head-to-head matchup in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

CLINTON: From the New York Times: "Clinton is confronting a stark reality: Building support for her candidacy must sometimes come at the expense of Mr. Obama, and sometimes even at the expense of the policies they had both pursued in the White House."

FOR THE RECORD…

"I haven't checked this morning, but I'm sure there's somebody else running."

  • Jeb Bush on the still growing GOP presidential field

TOMORROW’S SKED

Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz address the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington.

Hillary Clinton speaks at the NALEO conference in Las Vegas.

Jeb Bush campaigns in South Carolina.