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. Kate, Aurora CO

    In response to Cory from Canada:

    You can't be serious, right? Have you read the bible lately? So people who believe in a virgin birth or a man building a boat that holds 2 of every species or turning water into blood and bread into flesh makes more sense? Sorry but your reasoning could be applied towards every religion, which in my own humble opinion all have a sense of silliness to them.

    November 16, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Jim F, Bethlehem, PA

    The only thing more fake than Romney is God. Any religious person who attacks any other faith is doing nothing but fighting the image in the mirror. They're all nuts, they all have sorted pasts, they're all insults to human dignity.

    November 16, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. Robert, Shelton, CT

    While I think he is a disgraceful politician, I'd have to agree that these remarks are uncalled for.

    However, I don't know enough to say it is/ isn't a cultist religion.

    November 16, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Matt, Allentown, Pennsylvania

    I'm not surprised. Social conservatism is too often defined by bigotry. With the diversity of the presidential candidates, I expect to see more of this deplorable behavior. It's really sad that in "The land of the free", religious, racial and sexist bigotry is even an issue. We can only hope to expose this garbage and force it to crawl under a rock and die off with their backwards ideals.

    November 16, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. easy

    "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?"

    The answer is no. He spends OUR money (taxes) as an agent of the government. He spends HIS money (paycheck) as a private individual.

    November 16, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. jon gustafson, gun barrel city texas

    I was raised Mormon until I was old enough to run away from them (although their little white shirted bikers are still after me). I would never elect someone from that cult-take a close look people.

    November 16, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Gene, Houston, TX

    It seems a lot of people bash the Mormons because of the Joseph Smith story. I don't see what's so bad about it. Sure it may be out there – visitations from God and angels, etc. But all religions have beliefs in supernatural beings and/or occurrences. Catholics believe communion wafers turn into Jesus' flesh in their mouths. Does that make them cannibals? I once saw an interview with a minister who firmly believed metal objects materialized in someone's mouth and came flying out. All religions believe things that can be considered "out there". Mormons are no different. So why pick on Romney?

    November 16, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Aaron Kinney, Sherman Oaks CA

    Repulsive? And Romney's religion is the one that says the darker your skin is, the less God likes you.

    Kettle, meet Mr. Pot.

    November 16, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Sabi Kanani, Dallas TX

    Conservatives think Mitt is going to hell for his believes, just as he thinks Gays are going to hell for their actions; yet, he calls this repulsive?

    Republicans are such hypocrits!

    November 16, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Patrick, Denver CO

    Dave from Ohio:

    I don't think that would be a violation of church and state. George Bush gives 10% of his income to charity some of which I believe is to religious charities and I haven't heard anyone complaining about it. So in response to your question I think this would be OK.

    November 16, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. J - Texas

    I am not a republican. But it is a shame that the people in our country can sink so low. Leave the guy alone. So what if he is a Mormon. Religion shouldn't play a factor. I am not surprised – sad to say that our country isn't all that it raves to be. Free – equal rights, blah blah blah......

    November 16, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. Smike, New Orleans, Louisiana

    I don't dislike Mitt Romney because he's a Morman. I dislike him because he's another spoiled little trustfunder like Bush who feels his last name and checking balance entitles him to public office.

    November 16, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Joe, Providence RI

    Perhaps Romney is getting his due. While campaigning to become governor of MA, he was pro gay rights, even marching in a gay pride parade, and pro choice, can you here the flop in the flip now? And pro family? There are many different kinds of family in this world and he aggressively denounced any form of a LGBT familys civil rights after becoming the Govenor of MA, and suddenly became a pro life advocate. How can you trust someone like that? Saying anything to get in, get ahead. What is his truth, do we really know? So many questions to ponder... Give me a break calling people here bigots. Romney was a bigot himself when it came to LGBT issues in MA. Very incensitive , hurtful and mean spirited. I only wish those of you who hold him so high could of witnessed his reign and message while Govenor of MA, but then again perhaps you would of went along . It never ends...

    November 16, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. EB Rideout,

    Look for a republican operative to be behind this. It's their style.

    November 16, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. Daniel, NY

    Romney is being attacked so much because he is so strong in early states. Check these new polls out today from Michigan and Iowa that show Romney very solid in the GOP primaries.

    November 16, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  16. Steve, Huntington WV

    "but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" (ARTICLE VI, UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION)

    That's what our constitution says...lets uphold it!

    November 16, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. Jaxon, Reno NV

    Mitt Romney has already promised not to take a single paycheck if elected don't worry about that David. For all the stone throwers here, aren't your hateful comments towards bigots an act of bigotry in themselves? Isn't calling religious people nuts prejudism??? Isn't stereotyping Mormons as racist just that? Stereotyping? When you point a finger at someone three fingers point back at you.

    November 16, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Dr. John Charles Bernhardt, Salt Lake City, Utah

    My answer is who cares. I have given up on all the politicians running for president. No one is talking about fixing the border. No one is going to fix our broken education system. No one is going to do what is necessary to stop another major terror attack on this country. A pox on all their houses. I will vote on bond issues and the like but I no longer vote for politicians who offer no hope of actually getting problems solved.

    November 16, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  19. Tim, Concord, NH

    Ha bigotry? Romney should look no further for that with his homophobic anti-gay stance on issues.

    November 16, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  20. Rod_m WYO

    If anyone scares is NOT the's the evangelical Christians. It is too bad Romney chose to "rethink" his positions in order to appeal to that crowd.

    November 16, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. Karen, New York

    There is no limit to how low some people will fall to get at something desperately wanted.

    I have been contacted on a push poll and I must say my language was not lady like.

    November 16, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  22. Steve Blaine Washington

    CNN is a repository of Anti Mormons
    statements by Anti Mormons. If these people knew enough about religion as they are required to know they would be terrified out of their mind.
    My relatives were Mormons from the very early days and they were driven from Kirkland Ohio to Missouri, to Naavoo Illinois and finally to Salt City. Many were tarred and fearthered , beatten , their homes burned and many were murdered because Jesus Christ called and trained a young boy as a prophet the way He trained prophets in the Old Testement to restore the Church he established 2000 years ago before the day of his second coming.
    Joseph Smith paid the same price with his blood as the prophets of the Old Testament. Mormons are Christians in the sense that the early Christians were Christians.
    If people knew as much about the Bible as they are required to know they would know Jesus Christ did the samething before he destroyed the earth by flood by calling a prophet named Enoch to gather up the good people of the earth and translate them to heaven without passing through death. You Biblical scholars should ask yourself from the days of Adam on down when did Jesus Christ ever go back to an Apostized Church to restore his Gospel.
    AS Isaiah said in the Old testament Chapter 28 Verse 12 "In the days of the refreshing few people would listen." This statement has proved to be true but each person has the free agency Good gave them to do what they
    want to do but these same people should know that there is a price to pay for making wrong decisions.

    November 16, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. Karen, New York

    The latest word is that it comes out of the Giuliani campaign. The candidate has denied any knowledge of this but there is not much I put past the candidate after he used the bodies of dead firefighters as an excuse to run.

    November 16, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. Daniel

    It wasn't like the phone call was full of lies. It was full of the truth, that phone company should be praised!

    Thank you keep calling!

    November 16, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  25. Alan, San Angelo Texas

    Un-American? Hardly, it's a longtime American tradition. How did George Bush win in South Carolina? By painting John McCain as a man ready to become unglued at any moment. Welcome to a shot of Republican campaign medicine Mitt. Drink it fast and it doesn't burn so much.

    November 16, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
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