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BOB ABERNETHY, host: Both presidential candidates this week issued direct video appeals to faith-based voters. President Obama’s video came with the launch of a new campaign project called “People of Faith for Obama”:
OBAMA: “I’m asking for your support because we have more work to do to build an economy where families are valued and secure, and expand opportunity, extend compassion and pursue the common good.”
ABERNETHY: Meanwhile, Governor Romney’s campaign released a video that was played for religious conservatives at the Values Voter summit in Washington last weekend:
ROMNEY: “All we ask is that between now and November 6th, you join us and commit like never before. This election can come down to just one more vote. I ask you to find that one vote, ask one more person to join our campaign.”
ABERNETHY: Our managing editor Kim Lawton has been covering the campaigns. Kim, what do we know so far from the polls about how faith-based people are dividing?
KIM LAWTON (Managing Editor, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly): Well, of course, it’s just a snapshot for right now but there were some new numbers this week that suggested that evangelicals, that all important group for Republicans, do seem to be supporting Mitt Romney at around the same levels they supported John McCain, which is very high, so that’s good news for Governor Romney. Catholics seem to be more divided as they were last time around although some new numbers this week suggest that they are leaning more towards Obama as they did in the last election. I was surprised to see this week numbers suggesting that mainline Protestants, who went principally for John McCain last time around or slightly more for John McCain, are, more of them are leaning towards Obama this time around.
ABERNETHY: Is there anything at all in the data to suggest that Romney’s religion is making any difference?
LAWTON: Well, in these snapshots that we have right now it doesn’t appear to be the case. Some people had wondered if evangelicals would not be supporting him because he’s a Mormon and some evangelicals are concerned about that, had raised concerns about voting for a Mormon candidate. Doesn’t appear to be that way, however, people have to get to the polls for it to actually matter, you know, turnout is what counts. I was surprised in the video this week that Mitt Romney released, he never once mentioned his Mormon faith and some people had suggested that he might be talking about it more. He didn’t this week.
ABERNETHY: Not talking about it perhaps because it is a matter of concern for a lot of evangelical Protestants?
LAWTON: Well, that’s what some people are wondering if he just doesn’t want to raise it, he doesn’t want to raise it.
ABERNETHY: And the issue of religious liberty, quickly, for the Catholic leadership.
LAWTON: That’s something President Obama stressed in his video this week. He said “I’m firmly committed to religious liberty and always will be.” That’s an issue that some Catholics, particularly in the hierarchy, had been challenging him on. Again, it doesn’t seem to be hitting the grassroots right now.
ABERNETHY: Kim Lawton, many thanks.