HOLDERNESS, N.H. - Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said yesterday that his political advisers have warned him against giving a speech explaining his Mormon faith.
During a house party overlooking Squam Lake, Romney was asked by voters if he would give a speech outlining his religious beliefs and how those beliefs might impact his administration, much like President Kennedy did as he sought to explain his Catholic faith during the 1960 election.
"I'm happy to answer any questions people have about my faith and do so pretty regularly," the former Massachusetts governor said. "Is there going to be a special speech? Perhaps, at some point. I sort of like the idea myself. The political advisers tell me no, no, no - it's not a good idea. It draws too much attention to that issue alone."
Romney's Mormon faith has been an issue in his presidential bid, especially with the conservative evangelicals who are central to his strategy to position himself as the candidate of the GOP's family values voters.
In a Pew Research Center poll in September, a quarter of Republicans - including 36 percent of white evangelical Protestants - said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon.
Speaking of his religious beliefs, Romney said his Mormon values were in line with Judeo-Christian heritage. "I believe in serving other people," he said.
Democrats court Iowans
DES MOINES - The race for the Democratic presidential nomination moved into overdrive yesterday as candidates scrambled to outdo each other to win over Iowa activists who will lead off the contest on Jan. 3.
Six Democratic rivals trotted out celebrities, filled the air with populist rhetoric, and schmoozed party regulars in the most hectic day of a campaign that's been intense for months.
The city took on a circus-like atmosphere as candidates raced from forums to rallies to marches to receptions leading up to the Iowa Democratic Party's annual fund-raising dinner, which draws up to 9,000 people.
"We're going to have to do something about a system that's broken and rigged and we're going to have to show some backbone and courage to stand up against some very powerful and entrenched interests," said John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina. "That is exactly what we need to do, we need to give America hope."
Senator Barack Obama of Illinois billed himself as a change agent with a track record of fighting against special interests.
"The test of leadership isn't what you say, it's what you do," said Obama. "Voting records matter."
While Senator Hillary Clinton of New York has built a substantial lead in national polls, the race for Iowa's leadoff caucuses is much closer and more fluid less than two months before activists head to the caucuses.
"I think electability and results are important," said Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut. "I think caucus-goers are getting more and more interested about electability, we need to win this election in November. We need to have a candidate who can win, who can bring Democrats, independents, and Republicans who want change."
Obama said he sensed voter frustration with Washington as he campaigns. "You're sending your message through, but sometimes you can't get through because there's a lobbyist who's already on the line," said Obama.
Obama, Edwards, and Dodd were joined by Clinton, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware in the crush of candidates, each getting a chance to make a pitch to some of the biggest crowds of the campaign.