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Romney Gets in Row Over Mormonism

You may have seen it by now, but here's the full interview Mitt Romney did last Thursday with Iowa radio talk show host Jan Mickelson.

The interview focuses first on Romney's straw poll chances, and eventually gets to that emotional exchange played repeatedly on TV over the weekend into this week.

The infamous exchange begins at 10:41, when Mickelson tells Romney, "I think you're making a big, big mistake when you distance yourself from your faith."

"I'm not distancing myself from my faith," Romney says, and it goes on from there.

You can download the entire video from WHO-AM 1040's site here.

The Mickelson show also posted this disclaimer about the video on its Web site:

"A technical note... All of the in-studio presidential interviews are video taped for later webcasting. Normally, as in this case, they are shot with two fixed cameras by the webcaster. He and the cameras are highly visible. The cameras are mounted on tripods just a few feet from the guest and host. Most of the time the interviews are mixed down for time and composition, as in the recent Senator John McCain interview. In this case the complete one camera feed was posted so no later issues of 'editing' could be raised. (and because Mickelson looks crappy on camera... ed. note)"

UPDATE: Matthew Felling of CBSNews.com's Public Eye blog gives kudos to the Romney camp for posting the entire video, because "you realize that the campaign is attempting a jujitsu move. They bring in viewers who are expecting a blunder, but end up getting them to listen to Romney's thought-out response to some common concerns. So instead of a 'gotcha' moment, we're left with a guerilla campaign commercial. Nicely played, team Romney."

By Ed O'Keefe |  August 7, 2007; 3:41 PM ET Mitt Romney
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Comments

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Romney is courting the hard core Christianist wing of the Republican party. To do that he's going to have to profess alleged moral and religious outrage over gay people (their mere existence, their relationships, etc.) and abortion.

So it's a bit hypocritical for him to say his religion is off limits.

Posted by: Hillman | August 7, 2007 5:35 PM

It is interesting to note that Mickelson has some difficulty in understanding that a person can have a different policy than the religion or any other organization. The Mormon Church is neutral to political positions. The church has politicians all over the United States who have differing perspectives on policies and not all of them are in harmony with Church policy. Incidentally, policy is not doctrine just like polical policy is not law.

Posted by: David Aust | August 7, 2007 5:45 PM

Interesting. I like this Mitt! I am going to take a second look.

Posted by: Scott | August 7, 2007 5:52 PM

The Mormon Church is neutral to political positions? Hogwash. They have a long history of advocating persecution of gay people, both personally and through the use of law.

Posted by: Hillman | August 7, 2007 6:06 PM

Mitt Romney appears to have clearly won the exhange with the radio host who seems to have assumed because he read one except from Mormon church law he knew what the Mormon church believes and holds as a matter of faith on abortion. The radio host made the same mistake in asserting that because he had read a book on the meaning of the US Consitution that followed each constitutional clause with edited excerpts from notes made by Madison while at the convention that one could clearly and unambiguously know the original intent of the drafters. Would that it were so simple. But it is not. After all, even Madison, Jay and Hamilton disagreed about what the Constitution meant as evidenced by different interpretations they sometimes gave in the Federalist papers they jointly composed.
And Romney also appeared the more reasonal when he differed from the host who suggested that any right thinking President should be willing to tell the Supreme Court to take a hike when the President felt they were improperly legislating from the bench.

Posted by: BartonKeys | August 7, 2007 6:28 PM

I saw this on PrezVid last week: http://prezvid.com/2007/07/27/votervid-triple-play/ and saw the related vid called "Rudy - Not a Mormon" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6ZmZizWTy4 Clearly this is going to be a big issue in the campaign whether candidates are talking about it or not.

More interestingly, the PrezVid piece linked to an ABC News blotter about the mystery surrounding 'abrad2345' and how all the big Republican candidates claimed ignorance about him. http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/07/dirty-tricks-do.html It sounds suspiciously a lot like your mysterious 'dontvotefortop' YouTuber. One in the same, maybe?

Posted by: jummy | August 7, 2007 6:48 PM

As much as I despise Mitt Romney (being a resident of MA), I have to say he handled himself well here. There is a difference between having personal beliefs and legislating your beliefs on others, and I am glad that Romney is willing to make this distinction. Now if he were only as courageous on the subjects of illegal detention, habeus corpus and torture.

By the way, the host of this show displayed his ignorance right from the start. He is claiming that the Constitution makes the president a king, with the authority to override any judgement of the Supreme Court? I don't know a lot about the framers, but I sure know they had no intention of creating a King of our own, despite what our current president may believe...

Posted by: Steve | August 7, 2007 7:16 PM

Thanks to this video, we no longer need a JFK moment from Romney. Finally, we have a leader who is clean, clear, passionate, articulate, fair, imperfect, willing to accept change, believes in separation of Church and State, and otherwise well-reasoned...everything America stands for!

Posted by: Greg Cook | August 7, 2007 7:19 PM

It is amazing how Jan Michelson is able to speak such nonsense with such confidence. His view that the President should simply refuse to follow Supreme Court rulings that he thinks overstep their authority reveals such ignorance that he hardly seems worth talking to anymore. Then, his insistence that religious politicians, in order to be honest, must impose their belief on the public... I'm amazed that Romney continued to suffer this fool. If Romney is to be faulted for anything, I suppose it might be for taking this blowhard too seriously. But maybe this respect showed even for Michelson could be seen as a virtue. I guess it takes a lot of patience to be a politician.

Posted by: kt | August 7, 2007 8:02 PM

Romney was not showing respect for Mickelson as much as showing respect for his idiologically conservative audience. You can't get up and leave a show, because you aren't there to talk to the host, you are there to be heard by his audience.

Posted by: Helgeson | August 7, 2007 8:55 PM

Mitt Romney handled himself very well here and was remarkably patient considering the sheer ignorance, rudeness and intransigence he was confronted with.

I welcome the frankness in this video and applaud Romney's campaign for releasing it.

Posted by: Charles from Berlin | August 7, 2007 9:42 PM

To stand the test of being ones self when the "mike" is off--to not give into rudeness and conniving ways of the talk show host buy showing rancor and hate, which that scheming talk show host was trying to get out of Mitt (with his fake calm voice) represents character supreme. Wow! Go Mitt you have my vote. Let know one misconstrued Mitts Passion displayed for anything less than strength of character and convictions. In our jaded society when some one effectively makes a change based on his reasons given on abortion as he first dealt with it as the chief executive of Massachusetts, our pessimistic eye brows raise. Study the man, and you will see some one who has the most impeachable character amongst all the presidential hopefuls. Let us as a nation believe that statesmen and women can and do exist in our day in age. A careful review of Mitt the Man, points this direction in the most encouraging way....He is our best hope in 2008.....

Posted by: jared b | August 7, 2007 11:10 PM

I wish my writing was unimpeachable! Big gaffe on my part; in my above comments substitute unimpeachable for impeachable. Gracias.

Posted by: jared b | August 7, 2007 11:23 PM

I wishth I couldth talkth withoutth this stupidth lisp thatth makesth meth soundth stupidth. Maybeth Judithth couldth stapleth myth mouth shutth.

Posted by: rudy | August 8, 2007 1:45 AM

While Mitt tries to make the distinction between his church's beliefs and politics, one has only to look at the State of Utah to see that the Mormon church does influence legislation in that state and has done so in the past, e.g., past laws on polygamy, alcohol consumption, etc. The Mormon church has a spotty record on recognizing other races; it was only when the civil rights movement got into full swing in the 60s that their Patriarch "went up to the Mountain" and had a "Revelation" that it was OK to have African-Americans admitted to their Church. Very convenient. Supposedly, "revealed truth" is open to tinkering when the Feds and publicity start breathing down your neck. But to be fair, most religions fall into that category--for how long did Christianity (in its various forms) support slavery?

My personal opinion is that Mitt is just a bit too slick. He seems to have become a media darling. His flip flopping on many issues seem to indicate that he too has "Revelations" on his road to the White House. The problem with him, is that this flip flopping has not occurred over a long period of time, at least we could attribute that to maturity and the gaining of wisdom with age, but it seems to be more a "revelation" of convenience of time and place. Hmm. Does that sound familiar, perhaps he is influenced more by his religion.

Posted by: RedRat | August 8, 2007 1:39 PM

While Mitt tries to make the distinction between his church's beliefs and politics, one has only to look at the State of Utah to see that the Mormon church does influence legislation in that state and has done so in the past, e.g., past laws on polygamy, alcohol consumption, etc. The Mormon church has a spotty record on recognizing other races; it was only when the civil rights movement got into full swing in the 60s that their Patriarch "went up to the Mountain" and had a "Revelation" that it was OK to have African-Americans admitted to their Church. Very convenient. Supposedly, "revealed truth" is open to tinkering when the Feds and publicity start breathing down your neck. But to be fair, most religions fall into that category--for how long did Christianity (in its various forms) support slavery?

My personal opinion is that Mitt is just a bit too slick. He seems to have become a media darling. His flip flopping on many issues seem to indicate that he too has "Revelations" on his road to the White House. The problem with him, is that this flip flopping has not occurred over a long period of time, at least we could attribute that to maturity and the gaining of wisdom, but it seems to be more a revelation of convenience of time and place. Hmm. Does that sound familiar, perhaps he is influenced more by his religion.

Posted by: RedRat | August 8, 2007 1:42 PM

Mitt Romney--the improbable candidate. Running for a secular position and being subjected to the religious litmus test. Didn't our country face a similar time when JFK was running for president? Would his religious beliefs affect the way he would conduct political office? The answer was no with JFK and the answer is no with Mitt Romney. It seems so interesting that in a time of political correctness in this country that religion is playing such a big part in politics. Other candidates try to glorify their religiosity while Mitt tries to do what has been done throughout this country's history--separate church and state. And, if a presidential election were based on the faithfulness of the candidates, Mitt would be right up there at the top--but you won't hear him say that.

Posted by: Kevin T | August 8, 2007 5:21 PM

Kevin T: But it does seem that Mitt is trying to inject his religious views into the campaign. His current flip flop is certainly more in accordance with the Mormon Church than what he had as Governor of Mass.

Furthermore, the reason everyone has become sensitized to religion in this campaign is that the current President has himself obviously become a pawn of the conservative religious right, a rather extreme wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jimmy Carter was a very religious Southern Baptist but for all intents and purposes never injected his personal religious beliefs into his Presidential Office. The current Administration certainly has done this at the Pentagon with the Military, at the U.S. Air Force Academy are some examples. That is why people are rightfully concerned.

Posted by: RedRat | August 8, 2007 5:54 PM

Mitt did a great job handling the ignorance of the host. and by the way Mitt didnt get up and leave the show...the show was over.

Posted by: erik | August 30, 2007 6:14 PM

Did you notice that the camera was on him the whole time??

Aren't interviews usually two sided? I am a christian, though the label doesn't mean so much to me these days since I've gotten to know some really beautiful people who are jews or hindu or buddhist and know some rotten christians too who steal, lie, kill, cheat legitimately, if you can believe that.

What he said about the second coming of Christ is what christians believe. He will appear on the Mount of Olives, etc.

People keep trying to deflect from Mitt Romney's leadership abilities, and track record of rescuing businesses and the Olympics from very close financial demise by highlighting abortion issues and his religion. I'm becoming more and more impressed with how he handles himself in the midst of conflicts, and this video clip only affirms my conclusion about him. There are so many pressing issues that this country needs to address besides these two minor things. I don't see him trying to Mormonize America nor do I see him being insensitive to women's issues. I've always considered myself pro-choice, but I've always wanted children of my own, and my views have somewhat changed over the years. I think he's a good man and person, I'm looking forward to the GOP's candidates continuing to serve our country from D.C.!

When he rose from his chair, I thought he was going to storm out and I thought, uh oh, he'll catch bad press on that, but I think he got tired of knowing that the camera was on him and was tired of the interviewer not listening to him and sticking to those two issues about him, his Mormon beliefs and his abortion stance. He graciously ended the subject. If that's as belligerent he gets, I think that's a good indication that he's pretty level headed.

Posted by: Wendy Lumm | September 1, 2007 2:01 PM

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