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The Lid: The GOP’s Pope Francis Problem

Image: U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis during a welcoming ceremony at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Pope Francis during a welcoming ceremony at the White House in Washington September 23, 2015. TONY GENTILE / Reuters

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos…. Donald Trump says that he’s boycotting FOX News, which is really a shame because now no one will be able to see him on cable television ever again.

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’16 AT 30 THOUSAND

Six Republican presidential candidates are Catholic, and several will be on hand when Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress tomorrow. If his address at the White House today is any indication, conservatives will again be the group put in the most awkward spot by the popular pope’s remarks. The pontiff’s calls to address climate change, immigration reform and income inequality are ill-matched to the GOP field’s priorities. His plea for a “truly tolerant and inclusive” society contrasts with this week’s 2016 debate over whether a Muslim should be president. And we couldn’t help but be reminded of Donald Trump when the pope said: "As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.”

Republicans argue that they’re aligned with Pope Francis’ calls for religious liberty and abortion bans, but - when it comes to his core messages - they’re still at odds with arguably the most popular person in the world, And just how important is the Republican vote in the general election? Well, our colleague Dante Chinni took a deep dive on the numbers and found “the Catholic vote looks less like a ‘crucial swing-voting block’ than a broad indicator of where the electorate already is.” Meaning candidates win the Catholic vote by winning the popular vote, not by winning over Catholics as an influential group of voters.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • Donald Trump says he’s boycotting FOX News for “very unfair” treatment.
  • Clinton says it’s “ludicrous” to suggest that she’s behind the “birther movement.”
  • NBC’s John Yang reports that Ben Carson posted a big fundraising haul in the wake of his comments about Islam.
  • Lindsey Graham went on the offensive against some of his GOP rivals on Wednesday.
  • Two 2016 Democratic hopefuls are former mayors. Here’s how their time in city government influenced their political lives.

CAMPAIGN QUICK READS

BIDEN: Draft Biden is expanding in New Hampshire with three new hires.

CLINTON: POLITICO reports that consulting company Teneo asked Huma Abedin for help winning a presidential appointment for a supporter of a Clinton Foundation.

RUBIO: The Washington Post writes that he’s trying to win by laying low.

FOR THE RECORD…

“I got a fever and the only prescription is more Carson!”

  • Text on a t-shirt available at Ben Carson’s campaign website

TOMORROW’S SKED

Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress at 10am ET.

Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush campaign in South Carolina.

Marco Rubio holds a town hall in Davenport, Iowa.