(CNN) - After weeks of attacking President Barack Obama's economic record, Mitt Romney took a sharply different tack Thursday in his latest television ad, going after the president for policies the Republican challenger amounts to a "war on religion."
In the spot, which also features footage from Romney's trip in July to Poland, an announcer says Obama's heath care law forces religious institutions to "go against their faith."
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"Who shares your values?" the announcer asks. "President Obama used his healthcare plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith. Mitt Romney believes that's wrong."
In a press release that accompanied the ad, the campaign justifies the "war on religion" claim using an editorial published in the San Antonio Express News in February, as a political firestorm waged over a controversial federal rule requiring employers cover contraception in their health insurance plans.
The rule in question mandated all employers, including religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals and colleges, provide free contraception to employees through health insurance plans. Churches were exempted from the law.
After uproar from conservatives and religious groups, Obama announced an accommodation to the rule on February 10. Under the new plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees. Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to any women who work at such institutions.
A poll taken in March by the Public Religion Research Institute showed a majority of Americans - 54% - said religiously affiliated colleges and universities should be required to provide employees with health care plans that cover contraception.
Romney's thirty-second ad, titled "Be Not Afraid," does not directly reference the contraception rule, or the subsequent accommodation from the Obama adminstration.
After the "war on religion" segment, the ad uses a clip of Romney speaking in Poland.
"In 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire: 'Be not afraid,'" Romney is showed saying.
"When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?" the announcer asks.
Romney's speech in Warsaw marked his last public remarks on a week long, three-country foreign swing in July that was meant to bolster his foreign policy credentials. The trip also brought the candidate to London and Israel - two stops marred by stumbles, including a suggestion that the organizers of the London Olympics were ill prepared to host the 2012 Games. In Israel, his remarks in support of the Jewish state provoked an angry response from Palestinian leaders. But his stop in Poland was largely free of any major gaffe from the candidate.
In Thursday's ad, Romney is shown meeting with Lech Walesa, the shipyard worker who went on to inspire the Solidarity trade union and the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain. When Romney was in Poland, Walesa effectively endorsed him for president.
Romney's ad Thursday could be seen as a direct appeal to Catholic voters, who according to national exit polls went for Obama over Sen. John McCain in 2008 54%-45%. Organizations of Catholic bishops have led the charge against the contraception provision in Obama's heath care law.
Obama, who was campaigning in Colorado Wednesday, also subtly harkened back to February's debate over contraception. He was introduced by Georgetown University Law Center graduate Sandra Fluke, who was at the center of the controversy earlier this year after testifying to Congress about the importance of providing birth control to employees of religiously affiliated institutions.
Responding to the Romney ad, an Obama spokeswoman defended the president's contraception stance.
“President Obama believes that, in 2012, women should have access to free contraception as part of their health insurance, and he has done so in a way that respects religious liberty," Lis Smith wrote. "Churches are completely exempt and religiously affiliated organizations that object to providing the service will never have to pay for contraception. Mitt Romney apparently disagrees with this approach and it’s no surprise why. He has pledged to ‘get rid of’ of federal funding for Planned Parenthood and would take women’s health back to the 1950’s. Women can’t afford his extreme policies."
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this clown is all over the map. his campaign has no strategy and zero ideas. anyone who is thinking of voting for Romney should have their head examined. Oh wait you will have to pay for that out of pocket if Romney get his way.
So...religion, we won't follow your laws, but we'll accept your tax breaks.
If insurance will pay for the meds to provide a man with an erection, then insurance should pay to protect the orfice he wants to insert said erection!
"War on religion." Romney is his own worst enemy. He has a bonafide case of foot in mouth disease.
The catholic bishops are still very opposed to Obama's so-called accomodation and even had a national day of protest last month. Over 40 catholic hospitals and schools have sued the Obama administration over its contraception rule. I read last week that the ruling in one lawsuit on this subject was against the Obama administration. CNNs readers may not know about this stuff because CNN has stubbornly refused to report these facts and left them out of this story as well. The point is that a lot of catholics believe that Obama is at war against their faith, and Romney is not alone in making this accusation, and CNN is dishonest in failing to report these facts.
I didn't think rMoney would go there. Fundamentalist/evangelical christians do not consider Mormons to be true christians. They don't give a damn about the pope either. Can't believe he is drawing attention to the mormon thing. It's probably much worse in the rMoney camp than anyone can imagine.
I'll listen to Romney AFTER
1- he puts his complete employment plan on the table. 250K people being hired per month? How and where!?!?!
2- he puts his "common sense" health plan on the table. I'd even accept a GOP plan. So far no plan from either.
3- he stands up and does like JFK did about religion instead of pulling a Santorum (force people to live to his beliefs... no such thing a freedom of religion in their views). Education is available to all people, not just the rich folks. All education is available, even if it disagrees with their views. Open people's minds vs "burn the books that they don't agree with".
Did Mitt's campaign have a collective brain fart this week or something? Why would they want to let up at all from their supposedly strongest issue (the economy) to dredge up this contraception debate that the country decidedly does not support them on?
It's Romney who is conducting a war on religion. I don't know of any religion that would condone his incessant lying.
Mitt knows going to such lows is the only way he is going to keep the support of the rightwing of the republicanteapartiers.
As somebody said he ran from the truth long time ago. Now everytime he opens his mouth is to utter a crazier lie than the previous one, ( of course he and hus supporters are getting desperate as election time draws near and see themselves on the outside looking in ), so I would not be surprised if he starts channeling a birther nex,t like his buddy the Donald.
Alright, willard. You've obviously been led astray by someone you trust. You are not going to win the presidency by lying, cheating, and trying to suppress the vote. This country has been there and we're not going back! Period. You're also not going to win by playing the race card/dog-whistle-welfare card. Nor are you going to win by forcing women to have the children of their rapist. Simply put, you're not going to win. Why not? Because you really do believe that the average American is an idiot who has no common sense and will believe whatever you tell him. That's not even close to the truth. We don't care that you're rich. We care about how you treat those who are not rich. You, sir, do a lousy job of the latter. If we needed a man to run our business, you're the guy! But, our country is not a business and cannot be run like one. We need a president who looks out for everyone as best he can. You're not that guy. It ain't for everyone.
When a person get sick do they go to a preacher or a Doctor? Said enough.
Thomas Jeferson was not a "believing" Christian – Ben Franklin wasn't either. I am a mainstream Presbyterian, I think the religious right is a bunch of crazy people, and I have never had any of my atheist or agnostic freinds try to change my beliefs. I have had plenty of evangelicals try to convince me that the original nuclear family is the only correct way to live. Since my husband is divorced I am apparently supposed to what – run away from home? I guarantee our grandchildren would miss me. The Bible preaches tolerance and love thy neighbor, without exception. People likee Ancient Texan are hopefully ancient enought that they won't contaminate the minds of the young.
Religion has no place in American politics. We are not now, nor have we ever been, a theocracy.
Conservatives, please read those two sentences over and over and over and over again...and keep reading them until you understand them on a fundamental level.
Obama is so wonderful, he would not attack religion. Romeny is wrong. So are the catholic bishops who called for a national day of protest against Obama's policy. So are all of those lawsuits against the Obama administration claiming that the administration's policy violates their freedom of religion. And the court that ruled last week that Obama's policy violates freedom of religion was wrong too. Where did Romney ever get the idea that Obama has a War On Religion?
If you don't want an abortion, don't have one. You as a company don't get to dictate what health care coverage your employees get–this is not serfdom.
Thank goodness, ole Mittens had put the final nail in his coffin. The insanity from the right continues! I had to look several times to make sure I was seeing the words correctly. These people are flat out nuts! How embarrassing for anyone to even admit voting for Romney.
Get Real: Do you really think Jesus would own a gun and vote Republican?
Blah,Blah,Blah. 89 days to go and this idiot can fade into his life and disappear from ours. Lets see the tax filings Mitt.
Well, at least we had a little break from this kind of thing. The Repub's annoying habit of declaring there's a war on this or that seemed to stop for awhile when they were "out-warred" with the introduction to the war on women. The repub's had originally launched this particular variation of the "war on religion" sometime around Feb of this year, and they were two months into it and just a day into trying to launch yet another contrived war, Obama's so-called "war on the courts", when the war on women came out and blew all the repub's wars out of the water.
At least we were spared the traditional "War on Easter". But I guess, all the other wars are going to come warring back, such as the "war on thanksgiving" or the ever-punctual "War on Christmas". Anything to keep the idiots in the ranks riled up.
Desperate tactics by a very desperate man . . . release your tax returns Mittens and your approval rating just might go up one point . . . don't release them and be doomed.
I don't understand how a Christian can vote for a Mormon since the Mormon cult considers EVERY other religion an abomination.
Keep your theology out of my Democracy! Oh by the way, Romney has already lost.
How ridiculous, 80% of Catholics favor birth control, the other 20% are either very old or not concerned with a women's choice of what to do with her own body.
Ancient Texan....See what I mean? Ancient