romneyconcordpicture.jpgGod-o-Meter was pretty surprised by Mitt Romney’s recent admission that he’s inclined to give a “Mormon speech” but that his political advisors have waved him off. Shouldn’t someone campaigning to be the nation’s chief executive be calling the shots in his own campaign? Yesterday, Romney surprised God-o-Meter again. In an interview with New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor editors and reporters, he said his preference was to simply reprise JFK’s so-called Catholic speech from 1960:

Romney wasn’t so lighthearted about his own religion. Asked how he’d address voters wary of his Mormon faith, Romney said he wasn’t sure but emphasized that his faith’s Judeo-Christian roots are crucial to his political views on marriage, family, liberty and more. In the course of a three-minute answer, Romney never used the words Mormon or Latter-Day Saint.
In 1960, when he was running for president, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech aimed at questions about his Catholicism. Kennedy extolled the separation of church and state and assured voters that would never take orders from the Pope. Romney is often asked whether he’ll give a similar speech; yesterday, he said he wasn’t sure.
“John F. Kennedy gave the landmark speech on the topic. He said what needs to be said,” Romney said. “I don’t know that there’s something different that needs to be said than what he said. I guess I could go back and reprint it!”

As E.J. Dionne reminded everyone a recently, however, Romney faces a much different challenge than JFK, who simply had to convince voters he wouldn’t be beholden to the Vatican and would uphold the separation of church and state. Romney’s much trickier task is allaying worries about his Mormonism while convincing social conservatives that his faith does influence his policy stances. His stated preference for reprinting JFK’s address suggests Romney favors keeping faith and politics separate. Which means his “Mormon speech,” if it ever comes, could be much different than God-o-Meter–not to mention many religious conservatives–had expected.


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