Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

Up two notches in two days? Even God-o-meter is impressed. Campaigning in Decorah, Iowa, Mitt Romney showed just how determined he is to win the hearts of evangelical voters. In a speech at Luther College, reported by the Rocky Mountain News, the former Massachussetts governor cast himself as the only top tier Republican candidate who supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — an issue that has fallen off the radar screen for many voters, but not for evangelicals. Said Romney:

“For those who are not familiar with it, of the four nationally leading candidates for president – and I count myself as one of those, but also Mayor (Rudy) Giuliani, and Sen. (John) McCain and (former Sen.) Fred Thompson – there’s only one of us who’s in favor of a federal amendment to the constitution to limit marriage to the relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “And that’s me.”

The remark drew boos and hisses from students in the crowd, as was no doubt calculated. Romney’s intended audience, of course, was conservative Christian voters in Iowa and elsewhere who remain leery of his Mormon faith and his recent conversion on abortion, but who are even more leery of front-runner Rudy Giuliani’s tepid stand on conservative social issues. They had to be delighted by Romney’s eagerness to speak out on the subject.
Those who were impressed will no doubt forgive Romney for leaving former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also happens to support a marriage amendment, out of his “nationally leading” candidate list. Huckabee runs second or third to Romney in Iowa polls but has not cracked the top four in national surveys. The slight was “not intentional,” Romney spokesman Tim Albrecht told the Colorado newspaper. Disingenuous? Maybe. Self-serving? Of course.
God-o-meter sees the fingerprints of recent Romney campaign recruit Bill Wichterman all over the Luther College speech. It was just the kind of rhetoric that Focus on the Family’s Jim Dobson and other Wichterman pals on the Religious Right have found in too short supply from leading Republicans. Will it be enough to win them over and keep them from bolting to a third-party candidate? Stay tuned.


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