Santorum: Romney would have been 'uncomfortable' at Christian forum
November 20th, 2011
06:00 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum: Romney would have been 'uncomfortable' at Christian forum

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum suggested Sunday that Mitt Romney's absence at a Christian forum held in Des Moines a day earlier was because he may not have been completely at ease in an environment discussing his faith.

"Clearly this was a forum that Mitt Romney was not particularly comfortable with," Santorum told reporters when asked for his reaction to the Republican frontrunner's decision to skip the event, which was held in a church and sponsored by The Family Leader, a conservative group. The event was aimed at getting to the heart of candidates' core moral and religious beliefs.

"It was one that was longer form and one that was much more personal, much more reflective of where you've been and where you're going, as opposed to just talking about the future in sound bites... I don't think that played to Gov. Romney's strengths," Santorum said.

Asked to elaborate, Santorum said he didn't think Romney would be comfortable in a setting that explores "why you believe what you believe and where that came from."

Romney is a member of the Mormon faith.

President and CEO of The Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats told reporters at the forum that Romney "lacks judgment" for deciding to hold an event in New Hampshire instead, adding that he "dissed" Christian conservatives.

"If he ends up being the nominee, this base has to be inspired to go to work for him. We're still a swing state," Vander Plaats said.

Santorum was also asked by reporters how he responds to the Obama administration singling out Romney in attacks, specifically in a speech given to Iowa Democrats Saturday night by former Obama Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"I encourage them to take shots at anybody they want to," Santorum said. "I hope for the day when they start taking shots at me."

Santorum spoke to reporters prior to a speech he was scheduled to give at a church in Des Moines.

Romney's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

–CNN's Shannon Travis contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Religion • Rick Santorum
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. DAnna Sviridova

    I am so tired of the "my imaginary friends are better than your imaginary friends" mentality of the candidates. How about leaving the book characters at home and focus on the reality of the implosion of the country.

    "Faith" and "insanity" are both defined as a belief in something imaginary, not real,un-natural, not provable by scientific method.

    November 20, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. ARTRaveler

    Rick who?

    November 20, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  3. kenney douglas

    mitt romney is using his mammon cult to bewitch and hipnotise other candidates and also making other potential contestants to stay away.this is a truth people have not realised yet.

    November 20, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  4. Richard

    Romney is plenty comfortable talking about his faith. He laid it all out for you Rick in a speech 4 years ago, and you can google Romney talks his mormonism and you'll get dozens of examples of it. Santorum seizes this question to try to leverage his brand of "christianity" against the others. I like him before I read this. Santorum is no longer on my "Nice" list.

    November 20, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. BobR

    Rick Santorum is desperate to find any crack he can sneak into to improve his "non-existant" role in the GOP field.

    Mitt Romney having spent 2 1/2 years as a full-time, 19 year old missionary in Europe would have no problem facing the Repulican faithful in Iowa. This religion thing has been beat to pieces – either he is qualified to be the GOP nominee or not.

    Kennedy was a Catholic and that was beat to death in 1960's. There have been Quaker presidents (Nixon), athiests, etc over the centuries. Nixon (liar, criminal, profane) was obviously not a strong Quaker adherent, Kennedy was an adulterer and not a strong Catholic adherent. Others go to church because the nation expects it (Reagan, GWB). Only one modern president lived his religion while in office – Jimmy Carter.

    It would be nice to have someone who lived his religion and lead the country on sound principles. Mitt would do that but I don't think he is a complete package. Being a Mormon has nothing to do with that.

    November 20, 2011 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. Dave, CA

    Someone needs to tell little Ricky that you can't run the country on anti-gay hysteria and hatred.

    November 20, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. Portland tony

    I'm not necessarily a Romney supporter, but at least he has the courage to stand up to those Bible Thumping zealots by ignoring them. Some of those Republican nominees looked like utter fools with their tears and Christian like pathos on that stage. The only thing they know about God is they want to be one!

    November 20, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  8. Larry L

    Of course Romney would have been uncomfortable at a purely bible-thumping play for the evangelical Christian right-wing. I don't care for the flip-flopper but at least he doesn't appear to be working toward a theocracy like the other politicians working to milk the religious radicals. Santorum is a low-life for even bring up the subject.

    November 20, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. Obviously

    Obviously Mitt wouldn't be comfortable in a room full oh hypocrites.... He would throw up after a couple of minutes of that kind of fake piety! I know I couldn't take it for long. Yuk! Religion is great, fake religion... pandering to numskulls for votes, is disgusting.

    November 20, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. Wellthen

    This...coming from the man who said that John McCain did not understand what torture was and why it was used.

    November 20, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  11. chuck weidemann

    Santorum actually is looking more presidential than the others excepting Huntsman. Wow, who would belive that. He's toned way down on the far right pandering and appears to want to be more of a statesman...is it real???

    November 20, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  12. Ziioon!

    I won't Judge Mitts but does he have christian faith?or his faith lies with corporations which he claims are people!! Who can Direct Mitts to Romans Chp 7- Verse 14.

    November 20, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Charlie from the North

    I am an Episcopalian Democrat so I don't have a dog in their hunt. But for goodness sakes are you suggesting that the ex-governor of Massachusetts is not Christian enough? That is a slippery slope that no party should venter on. Thomas Jefferson was right about the separation of church and state. It seems strange that they would put up with some of the crazy right wing crap that cain produces (because God told him to run) yet the Mormon Church bothers them? The tea-party has crazified the GOP beyond all recognition.

    November 20, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. Joseph

    I bet this is how the taliban operates too. Religious sniping is hilarious. The only thing funnier is the people who care what Rick Santorum says.

    November 20, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. Slightly Left of Center

    Wow. Just....wow. Such stupidity and arrogance...and a very lame attempt to seem relevant.

    November 20, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  16. SecedingfromTexas

    I would not be 'comfortable' either sitting with a bunch of puritans espousing their self-perceived virtues and morals.
    Their ability to pass judgement so easily disqualifies them as "Christian", in that, those who truly believe are reminded
    "judge not", "do unto others", "love your neighbor as you love yourself", etc.
    These are the people who criticize some, yet embrace the likes of Gingrich. You either forgive all, or you forgive none.
    Hypocrit may be an over-used word, but in this case, it is hypocrisy personified.

    November 20, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  17. Lenny Pincus

    Of course, that explains why Rick Santorum only appears at right-wing, Christianist, dumb-fests. He is uncomfortable in the real world.

    November 20, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Rick Santorum wouldn't know true religion even if it were to smack him in the face.

    I am willing to go so far and say he and some of the other Republican party only know the Bible by what their campaign say so they can be in good standing with their 'supporters'.

    Till I find a Republican that actually follows Christs teachings of 'Love thy neighbor' (stops bashing the other candidates and actually has a good plan to follow ) instead of saying a whole bunch of crap that sounds like a student running for High School President.

    Write up a plan and actually publish it Candidates instead of just standing there like Rick Perry and say, "When I get into the office I am going to cut.." Have a plan. Stick to the plan. Instead of pulling a Rick Santorum.

    November 20, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  19. Chipster

    Santorum wants to ban birth control and dictate personal behavior to Americans. He said a Catholic doctor/hospital should be able to legally allow a woman to die rather than perform and abortion to save her life. If you have a coin with Bin Laden on it, look on the other side. I expect you'll see Rabid Rick. If a Catholic doctor doesn't want to do whatever it takes to save his patient's life, he's in the wrong profession. If a pharmacist doesn't want to dispense legal, prescribed birth control, he/she has "freedom of choice" to choose another career more suitable for him/her. Wow! If I'm a vegetarian and morally opposed to killing animals for food, would I get a job for a steakhouse and simply refuse to serve meats? When it comes to morals, it's a matter of convenience for Santorum. He advocates limits to medical malpractice and bought a house in VA for hundreds of thousands of $$$ with money from a malpractice suit filed against his wife's doctor! Hypocrite!

    November 20, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  20. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So let's see. A guy who belongs to a religion where every young man is expected to go out and greet and perform missionary work skips a "convention" made up of people who do not believe LDS is a real religion and this ultra-conservative who ranks somewhere to the right of Pius XII would have us believe that it is because Mittins would be uncomfortable. Yep. Ole Mittins would feel about as welcome as a patch of poison ivy at a dermatologist convention.

    November 20, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  21. sa12

    Who cares why he didn't go? He doesn't need to explain to people why he believes what he believes or where that belief comes from. Religion is personal. The opinion that he would be uncomfortable is possible because of all the hate and debate that comes from people trying to disprove his religion. Regardless if the forum is sponsored by a conservative group, after the ignorant rants of Jeffress, I wouldn't go either. This is a political election not a religious election, if you want to know hid beliefs, visit his religions website- mormon.org or lds.org, it's not like the Mormons keep their beliefs a secret. We as a captious nation are so obsessed with being the winner of every little thing and willing to put everyone down. Get over it.

    November 20, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  22. Sass

    It amazes me how the US scoffs at countries that mix religion with politics, and yet it does exactly the same thing. They talk about "family values"...so why didn't they invite other religions who share those values into the mix? Because its about power not strength, its about division, not unity. And perhaps that's why Romney doesn't want to participate. Because rather than talk about what unites them, these politicians would try to show what divides them if one is not of the same faith.

    November 20, 2011 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  23. Real Patriot

    Yeah-that's just what Jesus would do Rick-demonize another faith-

    Hypocrite.

    November 20, 2011 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  24. Michael Peters

    Rick Santorum wants to argue about who has the better God while the economy falls apart around us? What a child.

    November 20, 2011 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  25. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The idea that Romney would feel uncomfortable is just wrong. Why should he feel uncomfortable when he considers himself a Christian as well. I'd like to see a Jew or Muslim "feel comfortable" at this conservative event. These dominionists are going to lead to the down fall of what the founding fathers wanted - anyone being anything they wanted to be in the country as well as being a part of the government.

    November 20, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
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