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. Jack Mormon, Seattle, WA

    Come on Mitt phone calls are fair play! You more than anyone knows that Mormons are out there slinging mud for you! Keep it honest, please, otherwise you will look like a naughty boy!

    November 17, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Kanan k

    If Mitt think this is un-american, he should go back and watch all the comments he made against Muslims.If he has any morals and values, He should speak out whenever anyone makes racist comments against people of color and other religions. That would make him a candidate for all people instead of just the Mormons.

    November 17, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. A Wynne, Antioch, CA

    You all need to get used to this debate!

    Mitt is not the first Romney or the last to run for president!

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a well oiled machine that, under God's direction, is cranking out thousands of well balanced, intelligent, talented, hardworking, caring and Christian young people.

    Reference:UCLA study "Spiritual Life of College Students"

    You can throw up all the misinformation and out of context histo(a)rical data that you want...

    whatever helps you to best prepare personally for the first Mormon president in 2008...2012...2020!

    November 17, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Jason, Wilmington, NC

    Let’s clarify some things here. Yes, we have religious freedom in this country, which is a good thing. Mormons have the right to practice their interesting belief system, just as jews and christians do. I see liberals saying its bigotry to criticize Romney for his "faith", but liberals seem to call everything bigotry, if you in any way point out a difference in people. I am a democrat myself, but do not blindly follow party lines like some myopic robotic idiot. Why is that we always have to respect others beliefs no matter what? Yes, the mormon religion is absurd. I am not unimformed, I have read a lot about Joseph Smith and momornsim, as well as other world religions. I can’t believe people on here actually say it doesn’t matter what someone believes, as if it has no relevance to being the president, or being an intelligent thinking person. Yes, Christianity is also absurd, as well as the other monotheistic religions. I'm not simply some christian on here putting down a rival religion, its all supernatural antiquated hog wash in my opinion. However, Christianity has been around for a long time, and has thoroughly indoctrinated so many.

    How many more of these so called faiths do we have to respect? So now I have to respect Wiccans, Flying Spaghetti monsters, Astrologists, scientologists, psychics and the like? Please why don’t some relativistic liberals on here tell me when it’s appropriate to judge someone for their belief system? We can judge people based on their political beliefs, so why not their religious ones? If someone ran for president from some obscure or eccentric 3rd party would we not be able to judge this, or to criticize their beliefs? We judge peoples beliefs that have mental disorders who say they talked to Jesus, we are able to assess their legitimacies. And yes, we should question the legitimacy of Joseph Smith’s “revelations” he had approximately 140 years ago. Come on guys, it’s a load of crap and you know it! The guy was a charlatan and may even have had a criminal record. Some of the beliefs are ridiculous….the whole thing with the native Americans is pretty entertaining.

    We should judge people based on their beliefs, it’s a way of understanding how their mind works and their personal judgment. So, let’s say that last week some random guy from up state NY claimed to be divinely inspired and a prophet, and formed his religion, I would have to respect this? Of course not, he’d probably be admitted to the psychiatric hospital and prescribed anitpsychotic meds anyway. Think out the box people! Critical thinking is not a bad thing

    November 17, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Jason, Wilmington, NC

    """"If Mitt think this is un-american, he should go back and watch all the comments he made against Muslims.If he has any morals and values, He should speak out whenever anyone makes racist comments against people of color and other religions. That would make him a candidate for all people instead of just the Mormons.""""


    November 17, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Colleen Apple Valley, Ca.

    A Presidential candidate that belongs to a cult. Yes, I said a cult. Enough of this PC stuff. You made your bed, now sleep in it. A Republican complaining of a smear campaign. Hah ! That is rich.

    November 17, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  7. sarah,lawrenceville,pa

    It is a sad day in this great country when a man that is trying to live his life righteously and trying to help America is being persecuted because of his faith. It is simply unbelievable how ignorant people can be and i hope that people will rise above this childish and hateful mentality and view the man as what he is a good god fearing man trying to bring family values back into our society and make America stronger.

    November 17, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. Linda - Albany, NY

    I have my serious reservations regarding Mormonism, however, to send harrassing emails/phone calls is absolutely childish! If you don't like a religion, television/radio program, type of music, etc., then look the other way. No one is forcing anyone to believe/view anything. To go as far as this can be likened to hate crimes.

    Get a grip people!

    November 17, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. David, Las Vegas

    Addressing two issues asked:
    Firstly, regarding the issue of tithing and giving 10% of earnings to his church, Romney has stated that if elected President he will give up his paycheck from the government anyway. Secondly, blacks were never excluded from his church, but weren't allowed into priesthood capacities. Seems oddly similar to most churches that limit women into the priesthood. If not based on race, but still on the premise of gender. Regardless of your beliefs and practices, do you not all believe as Americans and people in general that bigotry in all forms should cease? Hopefully we can all come to terms with that fact, in the least.

    November 17, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  10. Rob, Evanston, Illinois

    These calls are childish and un-American acts of bigotry. Isn't this America-a land where people from any racial, or religious group are supposed to have equal opportunities-and YES, this also applies to running for president.

    I'm also disappointed in some of the anti-Mormon comments attached to this article by readers. To those who stoop to such un-American intollerance -grow up! And while your at it – do America a favor and stay home election day.

    November 17, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. Chappy, Jacksonville, Florida

    Romney is just another draft dodging
    chicken hawk like Cheney and Bill Clinton. He talks about a strong military but chose NOT to serve his country in Vietnam. Shame, shame to be
    to be riding his bicycle in France getting deferments while his Dad was running AMC and Gov. of Michigan.
    I could care less about his being a Morman. In fact, the Morman's in this country have one of the greatest traditions when it comes to "Family Values." However, do we need another

    November 17, 2007 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  12. john, nashville, tennessee

    To those of y'all who keep complaining about the mormon church not allowing blacks all the rights as the whites, it was a timing issue, in my opinion...if the mormon church had allowed blacks all the same rights and whites right when it was founded, think of how much MORE they would have been persecuted...especially in the mid-1900s.

    also, i find it humorous as to how people act like they know so much and jump to such awful conclusions, without getting correct information. actually, if you were to get correct info about the mormons, you'd find that they are really to only religion that makes sense.

    oh all those religious people out there bashing romney and mormons, what ever happened to love your neighbor as yourself? are the mormons an exception to this rule?

    November 17, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  13. Amber, Mountlake Terrace WA

    I think it is a little ironic myself. Here Romney is making the courting of the Religious Right a cornerstone of his campaign when true Fundamentalist Christian teachings hold that the foundations of his faith are a cult. There is bound to be some questions and reservations about this because these Christian voters are going to have set aside a tenet of their own belief in order to vote for Romney in good conscious. It's very similar to their dilemma with Guiliani and will probably come down to whose "imperfections" is the lesser evil.

    November 17, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. Sheryl San Antonio, TX

    Would you vote for Romney if he wasn't a Mormon?

    If you answered "yes" then you have a serious problem. It's like you are putting him through a "religious test" in order for him to qualify for president. By the way,

    "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." -US Constitution

    November 17, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 13 million members world wide. They are Christians as the name states. They are among the most generous, loving, charitable, family oriented, considerate people on the planet. They are first on many disaster scenes including Katrina. They have their own charities and Deseret Industries which is akin to the GoodWill. No LDS dresses in silk robes or drives Bentleys from doing church duties as the leaders volunteer their time and services to the good of mankind. They do most of the work required to keep up their church facilities themselves. Bishops clean restrooms along with other church members. LDS missionaries live in small quarters on the monies they have saved to serve their mission for two years. They are not paid. They face brutality from drunks in places like Moscow and adversity in many places in America but they carry on because of their faith. They rise early and are chaste. They do not drink or smoke. They preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and ask others if they wish to know more.
    Read their 13 Articles of Faith on LDS. ORG There is nothing but love and compassion and respect for the law set forth there. If you are a Christian and believe Christ is the Lord and Savior of the world and died for our sins then you believe what LDS members believe.
    The President of the Church does not rule his own country or have the Swiss Guard. He lives simply in Salt Lake City and is 95 years old. President Gordon B. Hinkley has been honored by Presidents and Kings for his wise counsel and advise.
    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs world-wide and all members are LDS and volunteer their time.
    Does it disquality a member of the church that is famous for teaching people to love their God and their fellow man, to be chaste before marriage to follow the Ten Commandments, to be charitable and kind, to follow the law of the land, not to smoke, or drink alcoholic beverages? No LDS has ever been told to vote a certain way. The church does not control the members. The members are what makes the Church so great. The LDS children are taught all these virtues at early age.
    Only bigots refuse and fools do not get the message from this fine Church of Jesus Christ.

    November 17, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  16. Dr. RaTsTaR Lebanon OR

    Question – Question – Question

    Why was one religion granted special deferment status? This is seriously against the Constitution. If it is so important to do "missionary" why couldn't they do it after their military service, if called? As far as I know no other religion is granted special privileges. Missionary duty does not serve you or me or our country. It is strictly a recruiting scam to bring in more people to their self-serving religion.

    Answer – Answer – Answer

    The Mormon church is very powerful.

    Who will a Mormon president serve?

    A man needs religion the way a fish needs a bicycle.

    November 18, 2007 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  17. william, la, california

    Im not mormon but again why are people bringing up religion. America needs to get back to its fundamentals. We shouldnt hate but really if everyone was gay and lesbian our world would cease to exist and the human race would end. I support romney its time to get somebody with some morals in office regardless whether mormon,jewish or catholic.

    November 18, 2007 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  18. John, Pittsburgh, PA

    While I truly beleive Mitt Romney will not let his mormon faith affect his judgement, it is a viable subject for discussion. If someone who beleived in Satanism was running would it not be an issue, now I'm not comparing the two, most mormons are good people who love their families. Yet a religon who's basic tenet is that all people of color are evil and marked by god as a curse, maybe it needs discussion.

    November 18, 2007 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  19. Ronnie.Irving,Texas

    Get a real religion and people will leave you alone.Mormonism is made up of sins against God and should loose their tax exception.

    November 18, 2007 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  20. John, Cleveland, OH

    People have the right and the responsibility to question a candidate’s judgment. The mormon religion was created about 150 years ago by a guy from up state NY. If that doesn’t raise a red flag for you then you really need to use your brain more. This doesn’t mean that Romney isn’t a good person, but one should be able to think about a candidates beliefs. As the person above said, if a person who worshiped satan or even a wiccan was running would we not be expected to question that? Yes, in some ways that is an exaggerated analogy, but it does make sense. Mormonism is a new religion, which is basically a plagiarism and reworking of existing religions. Any thinking person who takes the time to read about it knows it’s ridiculous. Yes, main stream religions believe weird things too (ie virgin births, resurrection) but thy have existed for 1000s of years before we smart enough to see how dumb we were for believing all that nonsense. We don’t need to keep accepting even more of these supernatural illogical belief systems.

    Religion is not a race, it’s a learned behavior. If you grew up in the middle east you'd likely have a totally different belief system. That being said, it’s astonishing that so many believe that their religion is the specific one of god and the others are false. People give religion too much privilege, as if it’s a race. It’s just a belief system that corresponds with certain geographical locations. If I can criticize a political party or an ideological belief, than I should be able to question a religion. This doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to believe and practice it, but you should have to defend your beliefs sometimes. More people should study the Enlightenment period and maybe they would realize how gullible and stupid we humans can be and subsequently start letting go of some of these supernatural crutches.

    November 18, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. David Columbus, OH

    Uhh Marty, 13 million is a skewed number. If you go to, they have all sorts of articles about how when you come to the church your name gets put on a member list (like any other church), but when you leave, your name is not taken off the member list. You have to send a letter to the "high council" and they determine if your name should be taken off. Oh yeah, did I also mention that Morman's baptise the dead EVEN if you are a member of another church. They baptise everyone Mormon. What a load of crap this "religion" is.

    November 18, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. Jerry, Denver, CO

    Yeah, he's a Mormon...we all get it. The problem isn't his religion, it's the fact that he's a giant hypocrite! I'm so tired of all of these false Christians, who call themselves "conservative", and emphasize the importance of "values." Then, at the same time, these same moralists are the people who want to stay in Iraq, continuing the cycle of death and destruction. Hell, now they want to go to war with Iran, who knows where after that. Anyone who calls themselves a christian and isn't a pacifist or at the very least a believer in diplomacy, is a fraud. Not only should these individuals be viewed as un-electable, they should also be viewed as liars only interested in personal power and financial gain. Nothing is more un-American than practicing religious hypocrisy in the eyes of the nation. A leader is someone who stands up for what they believe in at all times, they do not alter their core values in order to satisfy an alterior agenda, or to steal votes from the blind. Mitt Romney is a joke. He's unfit for the Presidency, and is as out of touch with 21st century America as is humanly possible.

    November 18, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. sue aspen, granada hills, ca

    Romney's draft record from the time describes him as "minister of religion or divinity student." Mayo said the church would have considered Romney a minister.

    Romney, who has said he would have served if he had been drafted, shed some light on his view of the matter in a recent interview with the Globe.

    "I really don’t recall thinking about political positions when I was knocking at the door in France" as a missionary, Romney said. "I was supportive of my country. I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam."

    The exemption for Mormon missionaries created controversy at the time. Non-Mormons in Utah filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 1968. The suit was still in court two years later, at a time when "the church and the Selective Service System work hand-in-hand in deferring the missionaries," according to an article from the period published by The New York Times.

    Richard Leedy, the lawyer who brought the suit, said in a telephone interview that he did so because "the substantial number of deferments to missionaries made the likelihood of us non-Mormons going to Vietnam a lot more likely."

    Separately, Romney's draft service was deferred due to his status as a full-time student for about three years.

    Romney registered with the Selective Service in April 1965 but was not considered readily available for military service until December 1970. His name was then put into the lottery based on an individual's birthday, and he drew the number 300 at a time when no one drawing higher than 195 was drafted.

    "When Governor Romney's deferment for college and missionary service ended, he made himself available for military service, and his name went into the lottery, but he was not selected," Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said via e-mail.

    Michael Kranish can be reached at

    © Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

    Above is info from the Globe Newspaper about Romney's deferment.

    Many Mormons do both, serve their missions and serve in the military.
    My father served three years on his LDS mission to Canada and then three years in the Army during WWII.

    Mormons believe in protecting their county in times of war. One of the great examples in Church History of Saints obeying the law of the land and in performing their civic and military duty was when the church was called on to aid in the War with Mexico. The Mormon Battalion was formed.
    The men of the Mormon Battalion are honored for their willingness to fight for the United States as loyal American citizens. Their march of some 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs to California is one of the longest military marches in history. Their participation in the early development of California by building Fort Moore in Los Angeles, building a courthouse in San Diego, and making bricks and building houses in southern California contributed to the growth of the West.

    The Mormon Men of Company A were responsible for opening the first wagon road over the southern route from California to Utah in 1848.

    Mormon Battalion monument,
    State Capitol grounds

    Historic sites associated with the battalion include the Mormon Battalion Memorial Visitor's Center in San Diego, California; Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial in Los Angeles, California; and the Mormon Battalion Monument in Memory Grove, Salt Lake City, Utah. Monuments relating to the battalion are also located in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, and trail markers have been placed on segments of the battalion route.

    To my knowledge, Mormons have served in all of the Wars that the U.S. has been involved with and there are many LDS currently enlisted in the Army and the Navy.

    November 18, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. John T., Jacksonville, Florida

    These anti-Mormon antics, including some of the comments posted on this site, are truly sad. I would suggest that anti-Mormons consider their relationship with God, and heed Jesus' words:

    "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

    November 18, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. sobe, madison wi

    What a crybaby! This is just politics, Republican style. Like it or don't like it, learn to love it, because it's not going away.
    Is any of the information being pushed false? If not, then no law has been broken and there are no grounds for investigation.
    Romney says it is unamerican to say bad (but true) things about a politician? Where has he been?

    November 18, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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