The Note: GOP Candidates Court Values Voters


--MEANWHILE, DEMOCRATIC FRONTRUNNER HILLARY CLINTON will be off the trail focused on raking in the fundraising dollars in Connecticut and New York City, where the Pope will also be spending his day. Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be in New Hampshire for a banquet after opening up a wide, 16-point lead in that state, according to a new WMUR/CNN poll out yesterday there.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: The pope is gone, so let the talk of faith begin. The Value Voters Summit in Washington comes at a fitting time for Donald Trump, whose own faith in Republican voters is being tested every bit as much as those voters are testing him. Specifically for Trump, this stretch of the campaign will determine whether the support he's enjoying from evangelical voters is tied to his front-running status or something deeper. For his part, Trump is talking about his own faith -- even his favorite Biblical verses -- more as a candidate, though such comments tend to get lost in blizzards of insults. Whether voters trust Trump on the subject -- particularly in a field filled with individuals of deep and abiding faith, not to mention records of acting on that faith -- could be key if Trump is able to hold on to an increasingly vulnerable polling lead.

--THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK": The powerhouse roundtable debates the week in politics, with ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd; ABC News contributor, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm; ABC News contributor and editor of The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol; and Rana Foroohar, assistant managing editor and columnist for TIME and CNN global economic analyst. See the whole political picture, Sunday on "This Week."

--POPE WEEK IN THE NOTE. All week long The Note has set aside a special place for daily insight and analysis of the Holy Father's trip to the United States. Father Michael A. Russo, an expert on the papacy who is serving this week as a media consultant for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, offers his take on an extraordinary few days:

"His presence that does not appear schooled or trained, rather authentic and real. His is not a version of the Kennedy/Nixon televised debates, where the make-up or the TV lighting makes for political and media success. There is something more here. Remember this is a man who had not traveled much of the world, until now. Nor does he have the gift of languages as Saint John Paul II; yet in his speech before Congress in English, people in the chamber and those of us watching on television held on every word. In my opinion, we must turn to his biography -- and it is precisely where his personality developed in an Italian-Argentine household, his taking charge as the first son of immigrants, and who worked at small jobs, attended technical school and studied chemistry, and after his mother's illness, learned to cook for the family. These early lessons in life that nurture seeds of "emotional intelligence," and forecast a leader's ability to deal well with people as a "moral authority."

"Here, his family, the Jesuit community, his unique ability to draw on people, his San Lorenzo soccer team, and traveling as he did "shoulder to shoulder" on public transportation are important aspects of this form of intelligence. In all good human relations, feelings must be mutual. So it does not come as a surprise that the San Lorenzo soccer team is naming their new stadium in Buenos Aires after Pope Francis. The late psychologist Eugene Kennedy wrote about "moral authority" in which the authoring of relationships such as a coach authoring teamwork, or a teacher authoring new knowledge and insight among her/his students, or parents whose "parenting" provide livelong lessons of love, honesty, and resiliency.

"Kennedy calls this "generative moral authority" one that does not impose, rather provides life lessons that come back to us a "second nature" in the conduct of the moral lives of people.

As we listen to his United Nations address this morning, too few world leaders today have such personal connection and emotional intelligence; his is a distinctive style and appeal. Read more from Father Russo (@frmikerusso), at his blog,

NOTED: POPE FRANCIS OFFERS REBUKES AND REMINDERS TO US POLITICIANS. For the moment, a political pope was bigger than politics -- and made American politics seem smaller in the process. The rapturous, bipartisan reception that greeted Pope Francis upon his entry into the House chamber -- a place no pope has gone before -- drowned out the considerable political noise outside the building. ABC'S RICK KLEIN has more.



MIKE HUCKABEE TAKES ON RAINBOW-COLORED DORITOS: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has a new enemy: Doritos Rainbows. After Frito-Lay this month said it would mail rainbow-colored Doritos chips to consumers who donated money to the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit helping the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Huckabee went on the offense against the snack-maker, ABC's BEN GITTLESON notes. In a letter his campaign said he sent the Frito-Lay Tuesday, he said Dan Savage, the man behind the group benefiting from the bags of Pride flag-inspired chips, has for years made "very hateful and vulgar comments toward Christians" and called "for violence and injury to people he disagrees with." Huckabee and the outspoken gay rights activist and commentator, who created the It Gets Better Project, have had a nasty relationship for years. The letter follows one four days earlier in which Huckabee first asked Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, to stop raising money for Savage's project, according to Huckabee's campaign, which said last night he had yet to receive a response.

BERNIE SANDERS CLIMBS TO DOUBLE-DIGIT LEAD OVER HILLARY CLINTON IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. Bernie Sanders is pulling away in the polls in New Hampshire. The Vermont senator has opened up a wide, 16-point lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, according to a new CNN/WMUR/UNH poll released Thursday night. Sanders garnered 46 percent support from likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, his highest support in the state yet this election cycle. Clinton earned only 30 percent support, her lowest in the state, ABC's RYAN STRUYK notes. Over the last six weeks, Sanders has surged up 10 points, while Clinton has dropped 12 points.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD HITS CARLY AGAIN. Carly Fiorina visited the Carolina Pregnancy Center in South Carolina Thursday morning and now Planned Parenthood has released a statement accusing her -- as the organization previously has -- of lying on the video she claims shows a fetus dying after an abortion, ABC's JORDYN PHELPS writes. In a statement from the Vice President for Communications, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Eric Ferrero wrote: "Given the flat-out lies that Carly Fiorina keeps telling, it's not surprise that she feels right at home at an organization that lies to women about abortion and tries to scare and shame them out of making their own decisions. There is no polite way to say this: Carly Fiorina is lying. There is no video showing anything like what she claims. It's just totally false, no matter how many times she repeats it."


"RUBIO PROPOSES EMPLOYER TAX CREDIT FOR PAID FAMILY LEAVE," by the Associated Press' Sergio Bustos. "Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio wants to give a tax break to employers who give their workers paid family leave. The Florida senator says he will introduce his plan Friday morning when he speaks before the Values Voter Summit in Washington. He is among several GOP presidential hopefuls scheduled to address the summit, an annual gathering of social conservatives. Under his proposal, Rubio would give businesses a 25 percent tax credit for providing at least four weeks of paid family leave. It would be limited to 12 weeks of leave and $4,000 per employee."


@AlexPappas: At the FRC's Values Voter Summit here in DC -- lot of presidential candidates expected today. Kim Davis accepting award tonight.

@AaronBlakeWP: Why the presidencies of Trump, Carson or Fiorina would be completely unprecedented

@vicenews: .@KalPenn heads to Mississippi for a taste of race relations (and barbecue):

@nationaljournal: Abortion has held up the budget before, but the stakes are higher this time

@thehill: "If the pope could endorse a candidate, he'd pick Bernie Sanders"