(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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GOP war on women, war on people's right to vote,.. war on the middle class, and war on the intellect of the American voter.
Keep talking, Romney, Rush, Rove, Ann Culter, Hannity. We love to hear how completely out of touch you are. Equality, Choice, paying one's taxes, Freedom to do what you want with your own body, Helping the less fortunate...that is the real American way.
It's actually Religion's War on America.
BOOOOOOORRRRRING! Romney ran the same tactic with John Hunstman, including attacking him with ads questioning his patriotism. Then he attacked Huntsmas directly by questioning his choice to serve the nation instead of raising money for the Republican party. Oh, and also, Romney is mad about those misleading ads that make him look like a job killer who is indirectly responsible for the death of a woman whose husband lost their job because of Bain capital. Look, if you are going to dish it out, take it as well.
Politicians are jerks, folks – Whatever the party, you and I ain't invited. Stop drinking their kool-aid and wake up!
It isn't a "war on religion" if you let religions make even non-religious Americans or Americans with differing religious beliefs follow their edicts.
Meanwhile, the GOP is trying to say women have no rights over their own body once they enter the bedroom, and Catholic Bishops know better than medical professionals about what is "good for" women.
More GOP tripe.
Talibangelicals are all for "religious freedom" but what they mean is the freedom for them to tell you exactly what you will think and do. The country will be better when the finally disappear.
Meanwhile GOP TEA trolls like Michelle Bachmann get to continue their war on people of other faiths in America. Can you say: "hypocracy"?
War, Religion and Taxes is something we all have to pay our fair share but this guy Romney has never paid his fair share to the military or in taxes except to the Mormon Church. They might want to pull down that ad.
Playing the religion card – sure sign of circling the drain. Freedom of and from Religion.
Try a little morality.
Xtians HATE it when they cannot tell the rest of the world how to live their lives.
So this is what the American Taliban has sunk to. Sad.
Romney is gaining time to election of distracted subject to avoid giving tax returns answer to Reid Minority Leader in Congress. He has not a single solution for American working class as well rich clause as he does to have talent to give any solution of American people, national economy or his cultural & geographical knowledge of world what to talk of political solutions of drifting America.
There is NO "war on religion" in this country. What has happened is that evangelical conservatives have tried to control the American agenda and, when the rest of us push back, they play the victim. I won't let my kids act that way.
How pathetic! Romeny needs to go away.
Religion is tool to control masses, and it is effective on the fearful sheep. Religion is assualting freedom because religion opposes freedom, in exchange for absolute obedience. All of the Abraham religions are violent and justify doing violence to those who do not practice their beliefs, and that include Judasim, Islamism and Christianity. Religion is a psychopathic mental disease, don't pass it on to your children. You can believe whatever you want, but keep it out of the school system and textbook you crazy christians, stop trying to indoctrinate my children at school, you leave religion in church and in your house, quit forcing it on children of unsuspecting parents.
Religion is tool to control masses, and it is effective on the fearful sheep. Religion is assualting freedom because religion opposes freedom, in exchange for absolute obedience. All of the Abraham religions are violent and justify doing violence to those who do not practice their beliefs, and that include Judasim, Islamism and Christianity. Religion is a psychopathic mental disease, don't pass it on to your children. Stop trying to indoctrinate my children at school, you leave religion in church and in your house, quit forcing it on children of unsuspecting parents.
Obama has not waged war on RELIGION. Obama has worked to provide a CHOICE to woman. Obama doesn't mandate that women USE birth control, he makes it possible for women who might otherwise not be able to afford it to have it be made available free of charge. In fact, according to his plan all women should be allowed free access to birth control. Obama has not attacked religion nor has he attacked the church for using their influence to pressure women into a choice that goes against their own personal beliefs. Obama hasn't attacked RELIGION for venturing into the realm of health care or private schools or any other BUSINESS outside the walls of their church. He didn't draw a line WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE to keep religion within it "rightful" bounds.
War On Religion??
mitts is always trying to keep our attention off the fact that he has NOTHING to offer.
No details of his plan for tax reform. Cut the already low taxes on the rich a further 7%!
Eliminate the estate tax!
Cut Corporate tax.
And, BTW, BALENCE THE BUDGET!!
On the backs of our Dwindling Middle Class???
How ya gonna do it, mitts??
riding bicycles is fun.
Romney has sunk to the lowest of lows. I can't imagine how any sane, thinking person could vote for him.
From the people that brought you 'War on Christmas'.
Gov. Romney's poll numbers are slumping so he resorts to vulgar culture warrior rhetoric that pits people against each other. I'm an Independent and I've been undecided in this race. But with yesterday's dishonest ad on welfare and now this religious culture warrior business I've made my decision to support Mr. Obama. I've seen this culture warrior movie before and it doesn't lead to solutions. What happened to the campaign I thought we were going to get?
It is Karl Rove doing it. He wants to have a Nixon again in the White House.
Karl Rove and cronies ,sorry the White House is not for sale.
I'm not sure that Obama is really declaring war on religion in general. Just those that don't promote a liberal agenda. Those religions that hold onto their core values however have been attacked as hate groups. Ironic isn't it?
Let me get this straight...
Against birth control.
Against public education.
Um... I'm not seeing a good outcome.