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. William, Illinois

    Un-American? Please. Electing a president who answers not to the American people but to the directions of a single person (catholic) or group of persons (mormon) is the only un-American thing about this story. Ask yourself, when there is a conflict between his faith and what needs to be done for America (and is called for by the public) where do you think he will side? On his spiritual side of course because otherwise he will be EXCOMMUNICATED by the Mormon Church.

    I have family members who are mormon and also catholic ones but I wouldn't elect any of them either.

    November 16, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  2. Laura - Tulsa OK

    Romney declined his $135,000 salary as Governor of Mass. According to Associated Press reports in May 2007, Romney announced he would accept the $400,000/yr salary as Pres. but would donate it to charity.

    November 16, 2007 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  3. ronnie - knoxville, tn

    smike in NO – you are typical of liberal attitude toward successful people. the way to be successful and rich yourself is to try to figure out how they got that way, then go out and find your own golden ticket ! don't hate him because he's rich, try to be like him

    November 16, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  4. David Branch, Waco, Texas

    The Clintons are in this, but of course Hillary doesn't know anything about it.

    November 16, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  5. James T, Fresno, CA

    Religion is one thing. Cults are another and they're fair game.

    November 16, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. Dr. RaTsTaR Lebanon OR

    1. What crime has been committed? Personally, I believe that there should be a law that states, "Use a robodialer, go to jail". This would cover everything from politics to mortgage refinancing. Until that law is passed I see nothing illegal about what was done. Bad taste maybe, but is there a law against that? The whole country would be in jail.

    "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." Is there something illegal about telling the truth? Look at what Romney's done. He went to France on Mormon missionary duty to avoid the draft during the Viet Nam War while others were getting drafted and volunteering. He says his 5 sons are performing duty to the country by serving on his campaign committee. Romney says Mormons take care of Mormons. Does Mitt not like the truth? Religion does not play a factor here. Romney's actions are the deciding element. That he took those actions based on his religion was his choice. Stop playing the discrimination card.

    2.This same tactic was used on Kerry during the last race. As I remember, there was a news story about people in Ohio getting late-evening phone calls from "homosexuals" who were asking for votes for Kerry because he supported gay marriage. You can bet this was done by Republicans, not Dems. You can't believe what your telephone tells you. You don't know who it is coming from. It would be very easy to rouse the rabble by making annoying phone calls that call for support for the other side. It could even be Romneys' camp behind this hoping for a backlash in favor of Romney. From some of the comments here this could be the case.

    “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,". I guess this didn't apply to Ohio.

    3. The Christians all call for a Christian to lead the country. Mitt says the country should be led by a man of faith. BTK is a Christian man of faith. Don't deny it.

    4. I will vote for the first politician who says he will guide the country on the advice he is given by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And if the FSM tells him to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran to end the tyranny there........? Which one of us would be un-American enough to question his faith?

    Yes let's get constitutional. "Laws neither for or against" religion. What sort of activist judges legislating from the bench passed the laws granting religion freedom from property taxes? Mega-Church = Mega-taxes. We could all get some tax relief if Religion Inc started paying their fair share of taxes. That garish monstrosity in Salt Lake City should be worth a lot of tax dollars. Ditto for that ugly abomination in San Diego. The Catholic church has a lot of land that is off the tax rolls. Tax them.

    Somebody please tell me why, in the face of shrinking supplies and growing demands of our natural resources we are still giving tax cuts to people who engage in the practice of Flesh Farming. Stop the government subsidy for large families. Two deductions for the first two children and then luxury taxes on each succeeding child. Most people limit themselves to two. Religion is eager to add to their cannon fodder. Why settle for two proselytutes when you can have eleven? Support Planned Parenthood. It is our only hope.

    I believe that Time Magazine devoted an issue to Mormons Inc. and National Geographic said it could not have happened the way Joey Smith said it did. Are these people un-American bigots for exposing the dark underbelly of this cult? Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Believe in the FSM or roast in hell.

    Honor the separation of church and state. Tax property equally. No more free rides for religion.

    One nation, under the FSM, indivisible, etc.

    Dr. RaTsTar, Proud Pagan, Viet Nam Era Veteran, '72-'76, two deployments to SE Asia.

    November 16, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  7. John Foster, Varnville, SC

    It is absolutely NOT un-American. In America we have freedom of religion. But we also have free speech. If you want to believe crazy things you have the right. But people also have the right to speak freely about your crazy beliefs.

    If you want to limit free speech YOU are un-American.

    November 16, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  8. Sophie, Dallas TX

    I'm sorry but anybody who thinks Jesus came from America should not be president.

    End of story.

    November 16, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  9. Victoria, Australia

    When Harry Reid has to account for his mormonism then I'll expect the same from Romney, until then, this a non issue. Since when did America become a nation of religious discrimination? Are people in the US really that ignorant?

    November 16, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. Wayte, Pensacola, Fl

    First of all the attacks upon a person's religion is highly prejudicial, secondly how dare those nasty twits mess with something so pure. Mr. Romney was serving not only his God, but demonstrating the more compassionate side of Americans. Mr. Romney did not in any way shape or form "run" from his responsibilites in Vietnam... Personally I would be more than honored to serve under a man like Romney.

    November 16, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  11. John, Cleveland, OH

    In response to Kate from Aurora CO.

    Yes the mormon religion is idiotic. It was invented about 100 years ago by a charlatan named Joseph Smith, who actually had a criminal record, something having to do with fraud. If you'll believe this nonsense you'll believe anything. I see your point regarding other religions, and my perspective is the same for all, all man-created, with emphasis on the word man. However, at least those beliefs have 1000s of years on their side, such dogmatism is a hard spell to break. I'm drawing the line with the old religions, we don’t need any more of these supernatural wastes of time.

    November 16, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. Shawnie Cannon, Grants Pass OR

    There are a lot of urban legends floating around about Mormon beliefs and several are on this thread, also a couple of personal accounts that ring very false with reality and mainstream mormonism. If you really want to know what they believe and how they believe it, the most pure source is or an active LDS friend/neighbor/co-worker. You won't get real info off this thread or others like it. They have an agenda to twist an malign. Good news is America is growing up and more people are walking away from anti-Mormonism than picking it up. Bigotry is out of style.

    November 16, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  13. Todd B., Richmond, VA

    Regarding Mitt Romney being upset because he's been stereotyped and attacked due to his religion, I must say it's the exact same tactic this hyprocrite uses when he stereotypes gay men and women in order to get elected. Stereoptyping kind of hurts when the shoe is on the other foot, eh Mitt? Kind did you say it? Un-American? My thoughts exactly.

    November 16, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  14. Rebecca, Michigan

    Well, I'm discouraged by all the people out there with such negative views of Mormonism. I am a Mormon. I pay my taxes, help the community, vote regularly, and do my best to raise my family to be good citizens....just like the majority of Mormons that I know. I'm bewildered that so many of you who are posting have such hostile feelings towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Maybe you'll change your mind someday. Here are some links to recent news articles about Mormons:

    Check these links out:

    November 16, 2007 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  15. Robb, New York

    Well, it's nice to see Karl Rove found work again. I wonder which campaign he joined to come up with this latest disgusting push poll.

    November 16, 2007 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. CJ Richmond, VA

    For all who insist on passing on second-hand information about the Mormon Faith, I hope you stop and think. Would you want someone spreading spurious information about you or an organization you associated with or would you rather have people come to you directly? Please show the same consideration for others.

    For those who say they've "researched" the LDS Church, try going to the OFFICIAL church web-sites ( and Afford the same respect to others that you would have afforded to yourselves. If you had an official web-site that you authored about yourself, wouldn't you want people to go there instead of visiting pages of others who may have intentions of spreading MISinformation about you or of taking facts out of context as these questions did of Romney?

    There is too much gossip and heresay. We all need to be more mature and responsible about what we say, listen to, or assume about others. (This doesn't just apply to politics, either!)

    To all who are saying that this religious bigotry is not much different from what homosexuals get, there is a big difference. No one would ever get away with saying "I knew a Gay once, and I'd never want one in the White House! They're messed up!" People CLAIM that Christians are bigoted against homosexuals merely because most Christians believe the practice to be immoral. Disagree does not equal Hate. I have homosexual friends, and if I agreed with their policies I'd consider voting for them! But these remarks against Mormons ARE bigoted because they're not just saying "we disagree with you," They're saying "We don't like Mormons. We should never have a Mormon president."

    Why is this difference so hard for people to understand?

    November 16, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  17. William, Boise Idaho

    You might ask Harry Reid, a democrat mormon if giving his 10 percent violates seperation of church and state.

    November 16, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  18. baren, clackamas wash.

    Mitt Romney is being attacked because of his religion. Isn't that un-American?

    November 16, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  19. Martin, Clarksville, Tn

    Amazing. If you want to see bigotry, just look at some of the postings here. I see a bunch of so-called Christians tearing into the man because of his faith. I never read of Christ teaching this type of hatred.

    November 16, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. Newt G. Chicago, Ill

    Romney is not Anti-Gay he is against Gay Marriage. Romney is not Anti-Womans Choice he is against abortion. There is a difference between being against an action and being against a person. Romney is not out beating up Gays or Killing Doctors that perform Abortions. That is Anti-Gay and Anti-choice. That is not Romney.
    Half of the comments about the "mormans" on this board are completely wrong. first of all it is Mormon not Morman. On the issue of blacks not being able to be members of the church, they have always been allowed to be members of the church. check it out at
    read through that website and then explain to me how you think that this religion is anything but christian and how it is bad. Any faith that promotes doing good to others regardless if they are Muslim, Hindu, Christian or any other faith help in bettering our world. It is only when the individuals of those faiths start preaching their own versions that these faiths become corrupted.
    It is ironic that what these faiths teach to be good, we turn to promote hatred towards others.
    peace be with us all

    November 16, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  21. Dan, Provo Utah

    For those of you who are attacking Romney based on his religion, I can only say that it is terribly hypocritical. It is highly unnecessary to go after the beliefs of a certain religion, and its even worse to contort them and spread lies that you have heard on the internet from anti-mormon websites. Before you start talking, read up and get your information from those who actually know about the religion instead of ripping on Joseph Smith, whose story is much more than what is portrayed by the anti-mormon bigots. Romney is not perfect, but no one is, and whether he is fit to be president should have nothing to do with his religious beliefs.

    November 16, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  22. Tuck

    A sure sign McCain is too old for the job, he's repeating himself.

    November 16, 2007 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  23. michael nordholm, providence, rhode island

    romney's religion is fair game. all
    rules of decency in politics have gone
    by the boards, so why can't people attack his cult-like religion? fair is fair...he has no problems mistaking barack obama for osama bin laden–so
    spare the us the blather.

    November 16, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  24. Walt, Belton, TX

    He's a bigot, a hypocrite and a mormon. The last one means he can look you in the eye and lie to your face without blinking.

    Sorta like a slick willie or hillarity.

    November 16, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  25. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Careful. This sure sounds like a sympathy vote attempt by Mitt baby. Who cares if he's Mormon?

    He's a waffling far-righter, and those types' time has come and gone.

    November 16, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
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