CBS Showcases 106-Year-Old Catholic Nun Voting for Obama

Sunday's CBS Evening News ended with a feature piece on a 106-year-old nun in Rome who plans to vote for Barack Obama, her first time to cast a presidential ballot since the New Hampshire native voted for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, because Obama is “a good” and “honest” man. From Rome, reporter Allen Pizzey related how her “simple, old-fashioned standard for politicians,” which apparently does not include the Catholic church's opposition to abortion, inspired her to decide to vote for the first time in 56 years. Sister Cecilia Gaudette explained: “As I say, a good straight man; good private life, honest and politically able to govern, of course.” As she put her hand over an Obama button on her clothing, Pizzey cautioned that though she's decided “the Democrat fit the bill,” she's “not about to campaign for him.” (She'll leave that to the news media?)

Earlier, the newscast aired a report on young voters in New Hampshire, leading anchor Russ Mitchell to set up the look at the nun: “Finally this evening, we just heard how the presidential election in New Hampshire could be decided by the youngest voters. Then again, it could also hinge on the vote of one Roman Catholic nun whose 100th birthday is well behind her.”

CBS's story followed a BBC report, “106-year-old voter chooses Obama,” to which the MRC's Brad Wilmouth alerted me. An excerpt from the posting by the BBC's David Willey:

A 106-year-old American nun living in a convent in Rome could well be the oldest person to vote in the 2008 US Presidential election.

Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

Although hard of hearing, she keeps herself informed by reading newspapers and watching TV at the convent.

"I'm encouraged by Senator Obama," she says.

"I've never met him, but he seems to be a good man with a good private life. That's the first thing. Then he must be able to govern," she adds...

The story on the Sunday, October 12 CBS Evening News:

RUSS MITCHELL: Finally this evening, we just heard how the presidential election in New Hampshire could be decided by the youngest voters. Then again, it could also hinge on the vote of one Roman Catholic nun whose 100th birthday is well behind her. Allen Pizzey has more.

ALLEN PIZZEY: At 106 years old, Sister Cecilia Gaudette is one of, if not the oldest, voter in this election.

SISTER CECILIA GAUDETTE: I'm sorry that I have to have someone to tell me, but I don't hear.

PIZZEY: Born in New Hampshire, she now lives in a convent in Rome. The last time she cast a ballot was 1952.

GAUDETTE: The only time I voted was for Eisenhower. I voted once and I won the election.

PIZZEY: Her second-ever vote almost didn't happen. When Sister Mary Birchman tried to register herself and Sister Cecilia for absentee ballots online, the section for date of birth only went back to 1905.

SISTER MARY BIRCHMAN: They said, could you send an I.D. or identification.

PIZZEY: Sister Cecilia still puts in several hours a day updating the archive of her convent and she has a simple, old-fashioned standard for politicians.

GAUDETTE: As I say, a good straight man; good private life, honest and politically able to govern, of course.

PIZZEY: This time around she decided the Democrat fit the bill, although she's not about to campaign for him.

GAUDETTE, HAND COVERING AN OBAMA BUTTON: I think God should help us than TV.
                                                
PIZZEY: But voting, she says, matters.
 
GAUDETTE: It's important because one vote may decide.

PIZZEY: And coming from someone who is making the effort at 106, that means something. Allen Pizzey, CBS News, Rome.
CBSNews.com video of Pizzey's story.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center