Governor Mitt Romney says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints represents ''a quintessentially American faith, and those values are values I aspire to live by" in a newly published national magazine article that discusses the impact his religious beliefs could have on his potential presidential bid.
''How Mormon am I?" Romney says in response to an interviewer's question in the September edition of the Atlantic Monthly, which is public today. ''You know, the principles and values taught to me by faith are values I aspire to live by and are as American as motherhood and apple pie. My faith believes in family, believes in Jesus Christ. It believes in serving one's neighbor and one's community. It believes in military service. It believes in patriotism; it actually believes this nation had an inspired founding."
Romney, a graduate of Brigham Young University, served as a missionary for the Mormon church from 1966 to 1968. The Globe reported in 1994 that the missionary service and later resumption of college got him a deferment from military service. He later received a high number in the draft lottery, ensuring he would not be called.
The article is the third lengthy profile of the Massachusetts Republican in a national magazine this year. He was also featured in June in the Weekly Standard and the National Review.
In the article, Romney also said that his father's gaffe in the 1968 presidential race helped teach him to speak carefully in public. George Romney withdrew from the race for the nomination shortly after describing his trip to Vietnam as a ''brainwashing."
''It did tell me you have to be very, very careful in your choice of words," Romney is quoted in the Atlantic. ''The careful selection of words is something I'm more attuned to because Dad fell into that quagmire."
As for his religious beliefs, he said, ''I'm not perfect, but I'm aspiring to be a good person as defined by the biblical Judeo-Christian standards that our society would recognize."
In the same article, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, brought up Romney's Mormon faith with the Atlantic interviewer. ''The question you didn't ask," Kennedy said, ''was about Mormonism, whether it would hurt him in a national campaign."
''The answer is no," Kennedy answered. ''We've moved on. That died with my brother Jack."