Campaign 2012: Republican Presidential Candidates


KIM LAWTON, correspondent: During this week’s debate, Mitt Romney said voters should not select candidates on the basis of their faith.

MITT ROMNEY (Presidential Candidate): That idea, that we choose people based upon their religion for public office, is what I find to be most troubling, because the founders of this country went to great length to make sure, and even put it in the Constitution, that we would not choose people who represent us in government based upon their religion.

LAWTON: Romney was responding to recent remarks by Dallas evangelical megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who told reporters he believed that Romney, as a Mormon, is part of a “theological cult” that is not Christian. At the Values Voter Summit earlier this month, Jeffress introduced Rick Perry, referring to his evangelical faith.

REV. ROBERT JEFFRESS (First Baptist Church of Dallas): Do we want a candidate who is a good moral person, or do we want a candidate who is a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?

LAWTON: Jeffress’ comments stirred controversy, even among other religious conservatives.

WILLIAM BENNETT (Conservative Commentator): Pastor Jeffress, do not give voice to bigotry. Do not give voice to bigotry.

LAWTON: Romney’s Mormon faith was also an issue in the last presidential campaign, prompting his 2007 speech saying that while he will be true to his beliefs, they would not dictate his presidency. It’s an issue of particular concern to many evangelical voters. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, almost 60 percent of white evangelicals believe that Mormonism is not a Christian religion. Although Romney does have some high-profile evangelical supporters, it appears he still hasn’t caught on at the evangelical grassroots. But neither has Perry, who has been openly touting his evangelical faith, so much so that Perry’s wife told supporters she feels he’s come under unfair attack because of his beliefs. Meanwhile, Herman Cain, who describes himself as a conservative Christian, is also making a play for evangelical voters with several recent faith-based stops, including a book signing at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

Evangelicals are a key GOP constituency, especially in the primary season. In 2008, 44 percent of all Republican presidential primary voters were self-identified evangelicals, with even higher percentages in several early voting states. This time around, evangelicals are still undecided. At the Values Voter Summit, Ron Paul won the straw poll, followed by Cain and Rick Santorum. Perry and Michele Bachmann tied for fourth. Romney came in sixth.

I’m Kim Lawton reporting.

  • Channah

    Being a grassroots evangelical Christian type of candidate is one of the main reasons I will not vote for a Republican in the general election. (Well, one of many).

  • Mormons Are New Testament Christians

    Mormons’ theology is based on New Testament Christianity, not Fourth Century Creeds. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views on Baptism, Lay Ministry, the Trinity, Theosis, Grace vs. Works, the Divinity of Jesus Christ comport more closely with Early Christianity than any other denomination. And Mormons’ teenagers have been judged to “top the charts” in Christian Characteristics by a UNC-Chapel Hill study. Read about it here:

    Those who would denigrate the Mormon religion, usually are mis-informed because New Testament Christianity is closer to Jesus Christ’s teachings than Fourth Century Creeds. Mormons have a better understanding of Christianity than any other denomination, according to a 2010 Pew Forum poll:

    11 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (including several presidents) were non-Trinitarian Christians. Those who now insist on their narrow Trinitarian and salvation only by grace definition of Christianity for candidates for public office are doing our Republic an injustice.

  • Channah

    I could never vote for an evangelical Christian who wears his ”religion on his sleeve”. We recently had one of those, and you see how that turned out. Need I say more?

  • Humanist

    Unfortunately, both parties are corrupt at the top. We need a party that is not for sale.

  • JDE

    Romney was the only person on that stage – with the possible exception of Gingerich – who didn’t belong in a psychiatric facility – and neither of them is any prize.

    That tells one about all one needs to know these days about the Republican Party.

  • James LaForest

    Of course faith should be discussed. I cannot see any reason why a person’s religion should not be part the process of discovering who a candidate is. It should not have disproportionate weight, but that’s for the people to decide. Many politicians hold very extreme religious views and those views are not only unpalatable to many people, but downright frightening and foreign to the American spirit of openness and freedom of religion – but also freedom FROM religion.

    Ironically, JFK was forced to speak to this issue at a time when the Catholic Church was liberalizing; I would wonder more today, with politicians like Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, how much their public policy would be informed by Church teaching.

    James LaForest