Romney takes on his religion in New Hampshire
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith may appear to be less of a factor in New Hampshire than it was in the evangelical Christian heartland of Iowa, but it’s still a stumbling block for some voters ahead of the state’s nominating primary on Tuesday.
When asked about his faith at an “Ask Mitt Anything” rally late on Friday, the former Massachusetts governor took a shot at voters who cast their ballots based purely on his Mormonism, likening them to Sunni and Shia groups fighting over religious lines in Iraq.
At the event one woman asked Romney a hypothetical question:
How would he vote if he had to decide between a candidate whose religion was familiar and agreed with her own, and another candidate whose religious beliefs were alien but who had other considerable strengths?
“This is a very theoretical idea, nothing like this exists?” Romney deadpanned to laughter, lightening the room of several hundred people before tackling the question.
“Look at the history of our country and consider the people who have been presidents of the United States and their religious affiliations and heritages and the contributions they have made,” he began before reprising some of the lines from the speech he gave on Dec. 6 on his faith. He said he would want to know if a candidate shared Judeo-Christian values. “Have they manifested those in the way they have live their own life? Do I see that in their relationship in their family?”
“I would not be interested in knowing what do they believe in the timing of the second coming or what sort of clothes will so-and-so be wearing when he comes back a second time. I don’t know if that makes any difference in the scheme of things. And frankly if we were to define differences in candidates based on the peculiarities or the particular natures of each of their faiths and denominations we would end up looking an awful lot like Shi’a and Sunni, where we would be selecting our candidates whether they are in my group or their group.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the sect based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is formally known, is the fourth-largest U.S. religion and one of the richest, with 12.9 million members globally. Many evangelical Christians, a powerful voting bloc in some U.S. states, dismiss Mormonism as a cult.
— Photo credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton