November 16th, 2007
05:02 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney: Anti-Mormon phone calls 'un-American'

Romney's campaign has asked the New Hampshire attorney general to investigate the calls.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called reports of anti-Mormon phone calls made to voters in New Hampshire "un-American" Friday, shortly after his campaign said it has formally asked the state's attorney general to investigate the matter.

"I've seen over the last few weeks more and more reports of e-mails, of literature being passed out, and now push polls which attack me on the basis of religion and I think that's very, very disappointing and un-American," Romney said while campaigning in Nevada.

According to the Associated Press, potential voters in both New Hampshire and Iowa have received anonymous phone calls designed to spread a negative image of the former Massachusetts governor.

Specifically, the calls raise questions about his Mormon faith, and the deferments he received from the Vietnam War because he was doing missionary work in France.

In a statement released earlier in the day, Romney Communications Director Matt Rhoades said the calls were "repulsive."

"There is no excuse for these attacks," Rhoades added. "Gov. Romney is campaigning as an optimist who wants to lead the nation. These attacks are just the opposite. They are ugly and divisive."

Rhoades also said New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, who is a chairman of Romney's campaign in the Granite State, has asked state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte to immediately open an investigation into the matter.

“New Hampshire voters are politically sophisticated enough to see through these types of negative campaign tactics and strongly resent this type of campaigning in our state," Gregg said. "I know Attorney General Kelly Ayotte will see through this case with the seriousness it deserves in a thorough and timely fashion.”

Meanwhile, rival candidate John McCain has also called on the attorney general to investigate that matter and denounced the practice as "cowardly."

"I was a target of these same tactics in South Carolina in 2000 and believe the American people deserve better from those who seek the high office of the presidency," he said.

"I was a target of these same tactics in South Carolina in 2000 and believe the American people deserve better from those who seek the high office of the presidency," he said.

Speaking in Nevada, Romney called McCain's request "somewhat ironic," noting his role in passing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.

"That bill limits the contributions very strictly that people can make to a campaign. And you have to disclose who the contributors are and what their affiliations are and so forth," he said. "But the bill leaves an enormous, gaping loophole and says that if you form a 527 or 501c4 you don’t have to disclose who the donors are. They can give an unlimited amount. The result of that legislation you’re seeing played out in politics today."

Spokespeople for both former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson have also denounced the calls.

Giuliani Communications Director Katie Levinson said, "There is no room for this sort of thing in politics," and Thompson Communications Director Todd Harris said, "This kind of robo-dial bigotry which tears down Republicans today will only serve to prop up Democrats tomorrow."

Related video: Watch Mitt Romney respond to the calls in New Hampshire

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Iowa • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • South Carolina
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. KFB Houston, TX

    This is grotesquely un-American, and, frankly, exactly what I would expect from most Republican politicians. Like every other good, principled liberal I know I've never once considered voting for Romney (or any conservative) in the presidential race, but this makes me want to vote in the Republican primary solely to support the beautiful notion of religious freedom in our country.
    In fact, I think I will do that...

    November 16, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Natalie Oxford, PA

    Well, if I was going to have to come up with suspects, I'd say it's either Tancredo with his "America must be made up of white Protestants" ideology, or maybe some of the fundamentalists who threw their support behind Guilianni. The Christian Right would the first bunch I'd question.

    November 16, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Laura - Tulsa OK

    Why do people single out Mitt Romney's Mormon faith? Is it fear of what they don't know about?

    Is it fear of a President pushing a religion onto the Amer. people? Barack's Obama's United Church of Christ has a "Black Value System" – should I be afraid he'll impose this "system" on me? How do we know that the other candidates are not highly religious and are just keeping quiet about it? Do we only vote for someone who proclaims "Don't worry I'm not that religious..."

    November 16, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  4. Jake Landon

    Why is it that Chris Dodd has not distanced himself from the endorsement of a defendant in a 100mil law suit based on threats against a black man who ran for mayor in Connecticut. As a constituent I called Dodd's campaign to point out this endorsement by these racist and they refuse to even distance themselves from it. The case is Mel Thompson v. Anthony Staffieri and the case number is 307 CV 1439 WWE. The defendant in question works for defendant Connecticut Local Politics, LLC and post on their blog at as ccg or "caffeinated geek girl". These people are racist and if they support Dodd he should disavow them. Would Dodd accept money from Bin Laden or send it back? Im sure he would send it back and that I no different than telling these racist thanks but no thanks. I am surprised and upset at my Senator.

    November 16, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Norotye New Bern, NC

    I agree! find them and prosecute – the rumor is is that it is the Huckabee Camp who may have had there own people make these calls and fronted as the call company concealing them from being found out by the public!

    November 16, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. M Flusk Fall River MA

    How can Romney condemn bigotry only when its aimed at him? Immigrants gays and other groups are fair game? A little hypocritcal?

    November 16, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. mark wilkes barre pa

    this sort of thing is of the lowest form. what a cowardly thing to do. I can't wait to see who is behind this. with the wire tapping technology we have today it should be easy to find out who has done this. It would serve us all well to know how low some of us will go to win or help someone win

    November 16, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. Cory, Canada

    I guess just like one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, one man's bigotry is another's COMMON SENSE. Seriously.....have you read the Mormon account? Let's make a rule......if you can believe nonsense like that, you simply cannot be President.

    November 16, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Craig, Seattle, WA

    Although the attacks are cowardly and this is coming from a Democrat, I certainly DO NOT WANT A MORMON in the White House. Period.

    November 16, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. Richard, San Francisco, CA

    Note to Romney campaign:

    Welcome to the Republican party, where bigotry has long been a way of life"
    Remember the "Southern strategy" employed by Nixon, Reagen, Dole,etc and of course who can forget Willie Horton and suppression of minority voters by our current President's campaign.

    It's nice to see your party reaping a bit of what you have long sowed.

    November 16, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. james,buda,tx

    Mitt, your white noone cares if you feel you have been disciminated agianst, only people of color or homosexuals can scream that.

    November 16, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. MRP, Maumelle AR

    McCains right....this is very cowardly. I'm not a Romney supporter infact I'm leaning towards Biden BUT a campaign should be ran on political issues and not based upon religion. If there is to be a seperation of church and state then why would his personal beliefs matter? Infact many of Romney's policies as Senator go against what I understand to be basic Mormon doctorine. COWARDLY!!!

    November 16, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  13. David Columbus, OH


    If Mitt gets elected, he would receive his presidental paycheck. Mormons are supposed to pay 10% of their income to the church. If he pays this from his presidental paycheck, is this considered a violation of seperation of church and state?

    November 16, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Randy finkelstein New York, New York

    I cant believe the nerve of some of these people criticizing him for being a mormon.
    me and my three wives are completely appalled.

    November 16, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Joe Mathews, Manchester, VT

    I sincerely hope that someone can get to the bottom of this and find out just who is responsible. That goes for the "Obama" is a "Muslim" calls and e-mails as well. Any candidate whose organization is proven to be involved in this is toast and should be.

    November 16, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Ken, Newmarket, NH

    I don't care what religion the hypocrite is. I would never vote for him.

    November 16, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    I can think of several reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney, but his religion is not one of them.

    I had thought and hoped that the issue of a candidate's religious beliefs was finally put to rest in 1960 when we sent a Roman Catholic to the White House. Guess what? The Pope did not command Jack Kennedy to make the U.S. a vassal of Rome like all those southern baptists, protestants, methodists etc. said he would.

    Apparently conservative evangelicals did not get the message and are ressurecting this absurd form of biggotry again for their own gain.

    November 16, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. Justin - Salt Lake City, Utah

    I find it ironic that he would use the word 'bigotry', since he campaigns aggressively against gay and lesbian people.

    I suspect he will learn nothing from this.

    November 16, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Max Mullin

    He was out proselytizing for the Mormons in the 1970s, a time when that church excluded blacks. He didn't call that repulsive. He opposes legislation that would end blatant forms of discrimination against gays. Doesn't he find discrimination repulsive? Let's hope he learns a broader lesson from the frequent Republican attacks on his religion.

    November 16, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Jason, Wilmington, NC

    The mormon faith is ridiculous. I don’t want a president who seriously believes that Joseph Smith, who states he discovered "divine golden tablets" in his back yard in up state NY about 100 years ago, was a religious prophet! People, mostly christians, tend to focus on the polygamy issue, but that’s not even the most absurd part about this “faith”. Take the time to read about the origins of this faith and the charlatan Joseph smith who concocted this doctrine. To think we could have a president who subscribed to such contrived doctrine is an insult to thinking people. Maybe if we are lucky we can get a candidate running with a strong background in astrology or even witchcraft.

    November 16, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. Peggy, Springfield MO

    That is so awesome Mitt Romeny is calling to end the anti mormon bigotry.
    John McCain is also backing it up, he is right, it will make the democrats stronger. I wonder why the Christians of this nation can't see Mitt Romney is a great man, who has excellent values and would serve this nation to bring it to the best it has ever been.

    November 16, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. Dieter Zerressen, Denver, CO

    McCain says he was a target of such smear tactic which was "cowardly" and "American people deserve better from those who seek the high office of the presidency". Do you know what cowardly group made those calls in South Carolina in 2000? Yep, the Bushies. He's your cowardly President and John McCain has been kissing his butt ever since. So much for standing up for principle.

    November 16, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. John, Cleveland, OH

    "I find it ironic that he would use the word 'bigotry', since he campaigns aggressively against gay and lesbian people."

    I agree Justin, it’s intellectually dishonest. But of course belief in ancient human-created texts gives one the right to discriminate against different races and sexual orientations. Ohh wait, the book of Mormon isn’t’s like 100 years old. It’s a silly and nonsensical plagiarized version of the christain faith. Well the mormons updated their view of black people in the 70s due to social’s only gonna take 10 or 15 more years from them to catch up to the issues of homosexuals! People are dumb.

    November 16, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. St. Peter, PearlyGates, Hvn

    I know who did this, and they are on my list. They won't get in the door.

    November 16, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    DO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS THAT DEMOCRATS MADE THOSE CALLS!!! First, most Democrats do not harbor hatred for other religions–remember we're the tree huggers, we even love radical muslims and communists–or so I've heard. Second, this guy has plenty of enemies among his own GOP rivals. Third, many of those rivals have the support of right-wing regligious groups whose members have done much worse–like burning Family Planning Clinics and shooting the doctors–in the name of their religion. I agree w/ investigating these incidents, and then prosecuting them to the fullest. I wouldn't jump to conclusions however.

    November 16, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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