Tales from the Trail

Romney’s religion still an issue for many Republicans

Mitt Romney might be looking to open up an unassailable lead over rival Rick Santorum in the 10 “Super Tuesday” nominating contests, but he still faces questions among many of his fellow Republicans about his Mormon religion, according to recent NBC/Marist poll results.

NBC/Marist found that large numbers of Republicans voters — a range of 37 to 44 percent — in two of the states holding primaries on March 6 – Ohio and Virginia – and others that voted last week - Michigan and Arizona  – do not believe that Mormons are Christians, or are unsure whether they are.

The percentages were the same in Virginia, Ohio and Michigan, where 44 percent of likely Republican primary voters said they did not believe that Mormons are Christians or were not sure, and 56 percent said they do believe a Mormon is a Christian, according to the polls. Polling was done in all of the states before they held their primaries.

In Arizona, 63 percent of likely Republican voters polled before the primary believed Mormons were Christians, while 37 percent did not or weren’t sure.  In Florida, 60 percent of likely Republican primary voters said Mormons were Christians, and 40 percent did not or were not sure.

The polls found some correlations between those views and support for Mitt Romney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the formal name for Mormonism, compared with his main rival, Rick Santorum, a former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania best known for his unflinchingly religious conservative views on issues such as opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage.

Romney on his work as a Mormon missionary: “We didn’t convert one person”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday, where co-host Joe Scarborough asked him about his experience as a Mormon missionary in France in the 1960s. “Talk about your rejections as a missionary knocking on door, after door, after door in a hostile environment,” Scarborough asked.

Romney recalled five months he spent in one French city, where he said near-constant brush-offs built his resilience:

“We knocked on doors from morning until quite late in the evening,” he said. “We didn’t convert one person in five months. So, you understand the rejection, you know that’s a pretty high level of rejection and you get used to it. You say, ‘okay, what do I believe, what’s important to me,’ and you don’t measure yourself and your success by how other people react, but instead by how you’re doing and how you feel about the things you care about.”