The Irish Catholic who is Romney’s “unseen weapon”

From the Independent newspaper:

Not many people in America have heard of Peter G Flaherty II. And to this quiet and unassuming Irishman, that’s exactly how it should be.

If Mitt Romney wins the presidential election next month, observers say it may all be down to the deft political handling of the soft-spoken lawyer from Boston, one of the most important members of the Romney campaign, and a leading light in the Irish-American community.

Hailed recently by The New York Times as Mr Romney’s “unseen but crucial weapon” in his fight for the White House, Flaherty has been given one of the most important jobs of the campaign: stealing away the Catholic vote from Barack Obama and winning over religious conservatives who remain deeply suspicious of Romney’s Mormon roots.

A devout Irish-American Catholic who keeps a statue of theVirgin Mary on his desk, Flaherty’s quiet determination has already reaped significant rewards. During the bitter fight for the Republican presidential nomination, it was Flaherty who persuaded five former ambassadors to the Vatican to publicly back Romney over his Catholic rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

It was also Flaherty’s quiet diplomacy that scored a secret meeting between his boss and the influential Archbishop ofNew York, Cardinal Timothy M Dolan in Manhattan last April. That meeting led to Dolan — arguably the most powerful man in the American Catholic church — accepting an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention in August, a massive coup for Romney who is aggressively pursuing every Catholic vote he can get.

‘We’re going to have outreach to Catholics in a co-ordinated, organised effort — state by state, diocese by diocese, parish by parish and pew by pew,” Flaherty told The New York Times…

…The son of an Irish-American lawyer and nurse, Flaherty (47) has lived his entire life within the Irish hub of Boston and now lives less than three miles from Romney’s luxurious town home in the quaint suburb of Belmont.

A devoted father of three, Flaherty is married to a school teacher, Jen, and loves spending time with his family, coaching his son’s basketball and little league baseball teams and taking them out for burgers and hotdogs at a cheap local joint in South Boston on weekends.

Family to Flaherty is everything. And despite his devout Catholic beliefs he sees inspiration in his Mormon boss’s faith and values. “I think [Mitt is] always happiest when Ann is around him,” Flaherty said. “Pope John Paul II said: ‘As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.’ Mitt sets a wonderful example for a young father like me.”

There’s much more.  Read on. 

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