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He should stress his Mormon faith to voters who believe it’s a cult.
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But Romneycare, Massachusetts’ health care insurance reform law passed in 2006, allows women to obtain elective abortions for a $50 co-pay.
Romney now calls himself “firmly pro-life” and has referred to his past support for Roe as his life’s “defining mistake.” He insists he would be “delighted” to sign a federal ban on abortion if Roe were overturned. Yet Romney remains the least conservative Republican presidential candidate.
Romney can assuage skepticism about his social conservatism by stressing his Mormon values.
Mormons are renowned for being family-oriented, civic-minded and models of self-restraint. According to a 2010 Gallup survey, America’s six million Mormons also compose the country’s most conservative voting bloc.
Fifty-nine percent of Mormons self-identify as conservative, and only 8% as liberal. The next most conservative religious group is Protestants/other Christians, 46% of whom self-identify as conservative and 16% as liberal.
Mormons also have the highest share who self-identify as “very conservative,” at 16%, and the lowest as “very liberal,” at 1%.
A 2009 Pew poll found that Mormons are more likely than any other religion to take a pro-life position on abortion. Seventy percent of Mormons believe abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances, compared with 42% of the general population.
Finally, a 2009 Pew poll found that 68% of Mormons believe Hollywood threatens their values, compared to 53% of evangelicals and 42% of the general population.
Mormons have been politically active in legislative efforts to protect traditional marriage. Their support (in the form of millions of dollars in donations and countless volunteers) was probably decisive in passing California’s marriage protection amendment in 2008.
Romney has recently started to talk about his faith and values, and to juxtapose them with those of his latest rival, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In a November debate, Romney mentioned that he’s been a member of the same church for his entire life and married to the same woman for 42 years. The Romney campaign makes those same points in an Iowa mailer that touts Romney’s social conservatism. “Mitt Romney lives his values,” the ad tells Iowa’s socially conservative caucus-goers.
It’s not only in his marriage and family life (he has five sons) that Romney lives his values. As a Mormon lay leader, Romney did pastoral work that included counseling fellow Mormons on everything from marriage, adoption, and addiction to how to grieve the death of a loved one. As a bishop, Romney even counseled a woman not to abort her child.
These are stories that would humanize Romney and endear him to voters, including conservatives. He shouldn’t be afraid to mention them just because they involve actions he took as a representative of his church.
In the eyes of many religious conservatives, Gov. Romney’s problem is not that he is, if you will, too Mormon, but rather that he has not been Mormon enough — that he hasn’t always been true to traditional Mormon support for the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.
But Romney can turn his “Mormon problem” into an advantage by stressing the values and policy positions that derive from his faith.