COLLEGE STATION, Texas (BP)--Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought to ease concerns among some conservatives about his Mormon beliefs Dec. 6, saying he shares the same values they do and that all Americans should embrace what he called the "nation's symphony of faith."
"Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president," Romney said, referring to John F. Kennedy's famous speech. "Like him, I am an American running for president. 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."
The speech at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library came as Mike Huckabee, a dark horse GOP candidate just weeks ago, has surged in the polls and threatens to win the votes of the same social conservative evangelicals Romney is courting. Of the five most recent polls in Iowa -- which votes first on Jan. 3 -- Huckabee leads in three, Romney in two. Additionally, Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, was leading among Republicans in two new South Carolina polls released Dec. 6 and was in second place nationally behind Rudy Giuliani in a Dec. 4 Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, does not endorse candidates but was in attendance for the speech at the invitation of Romney. Read More