Shelby Township: Republican presidential
candidate Mitt Romney is wading into the social and religious issues that helped fuel the rise of his rival Rick Santorum,
who has excited the Republican base with his conservative
Romney, a Mormon and multimillionaire venture capitalist
who served as governor of Massachusetts, took aim yesterday at
President Barack Obama, saying his administration has "fought
against religion" and sought to substitute a "secular" agenda
for one grounded in faith.
His remarks contrasted sharply from his even-tempered
emphasis on jobs, the economy and his resume as a can-do
corporate executive, and came a day before he was scheduled to
debate his Republican opponents in Arizona. He is facing a
tough challenge from Santorum, who has risen in the polls with
his strong anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage rhetoric, and
appeals to blue-collar voters.
Romney, Santorum, former speaker of the House of
Representatives Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are
competing for their party`s nomination to challenge Obama in
the general election early in November.
Santorum surged past Romney in recent opinion polls of
Republican voters after winning contests in Minnesota,
Colorado and Missouri on February 7. Several polls have shown
Santorum leading in Romney`s native state of Michigan, where
his father served as governor.
The primaries in Michigan and Arizona on Feb. 28 are next
in the state-by-state contests to choose delegates to the
party`s national convention in August in Florida, where the
Republican presidential candidate will be nominated.
Romney was campaigning in Michigan on Tuesday, and was asked
during a town hall meeting about how he would protect
"Unfortunately, possibly because of the people the
president hangs around with, and their agenda, their secular
agenda, they have fought against religion," he said.
Obama`s campaign seized on the characterisation, calling
Romney`s comments "disgraceful."
Religious liberty has been a leading topic in recent
weeks because of the Obama administration`s mandate that
insurance companies provide free birth control even to people
employed by church-affiliated organisations, including schools
and hospitals. Opponents frame the debate as one of religious
liberty while proponents of the mandate say it`s about women`s
health and access to contraception.