Do his Mormon religious beliefs mean Mitt Romney doesn’t have a prayer of winning the Republican nomination?
Though pollsters say many voters don’t know or care about Mr. Romney’s membership in the Church of Latter Day Saints, the former Massachusetts governor’s religion continues to be a hot topic on the campaign trail. Mr. Romney’s religious beliefs made headlines again this weekend after Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at a 10,000 member Baptist megachurch in Dallas, Texas, made anti-Mormon statements at the conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington.
“That is a mainstream view, that Mormonism is a cult. … Every true, born again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian,” Dr. Jeffress said.
Dr. Jeffress has endorsed Mr. Romney’s rival Rick Perry in the race for the Republican nomination.
Two of Mr. Romney’s other opponents, Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann, were both asked about his religion on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
Ms. Bachmann wouldn’t discuss whether she believes Mr. Romney is a Christian.
“We have religious tolerance in this country, and we understand that people have different views on their faith, and I have a very sincerely held belief on faith, and I think we just leave it at that,” Ms. Bachmann said.
Mr. Cain also dodged the question, although he made sure to point out that he’s “a lifelong Christian.”
Mr. Romney also faced questions about his beliefs during the 2008 Presidential campaign. He attempted to put the issue to rest in December 2007 with a widely publicized speech that stressed the value of “religious tolerance and liberty” and emphasized his faith in Jesus Christ:
“I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith. Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin. … There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”
Mr. Romney isn’t the only Mormon seeking the Republican nomination. Former Utah governor and member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Jon Huntsman is also in the race. Mr. Huntsman currently ranks dead last in the Republican field according to polls conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, CBS News, Quinnipiac and Pew Research.
Though Mr. Romney has continually faced questions about whether his religion will affect his ability to win voters, no one is talking talking about whether Mr. Huntsman’s faith is contributing to his dismal polling because, well, no one is talking about Jon Huntsman.