(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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How ridiculous. Scrap the ad and think of something else. It won't work.
I regret to say Mr Romney, that far too many women choose to use contraceptives irrepective of thier religious faith.
I believe that is thier right of choice. I fully support what Obama has done which is to say to insurers you cannot deny coverage of these medications in policies you have to make them available. Such a law does not move one iota the individuals religious choice not to use them. What it does do is allow all women and especially those in families that have low level insurance policies to be covered without choosing the pregnacy risk over food!
If and when you and your Family have that dilemma to face you may stop this nonsensensical attack.
Your view attempts to make papal encyclicals or the catechism into national law, or any other form of religious tenet. it does not work like that. Separation of church and state sound familiar Mr. Republican consitutionalist.
Religious businesses didn't want to pay for birth control. Now they don't have to, so why are they still complaining? By doing so, they're admitting that it's not really about where their money goes, but about attempting to control what healthcare their female employees receive. It's not a war on religion, but a war on women.
The only reason Mitt is harping on this topic is because he is unlikeable, has a history of destroying jobs in America, and has no campaign ideas, except to complain about Obama. He has no alternatives to offer. So the only thing he can do is to try to rile up people who feel alienated and endangered. That doesn't mean he's going to do anything for them. he's jsut gonna use their outrage since he doesn't have any ideas or solutions.
how can we have a seperartion of church and state in this country when political candidates openly flaunt their beliefs ? one word of godspeak should see them disqualified for office. those people will sacrifice your kids for israels sake and the zionist wackos will vote for them..
What happened to the separation of Church and State? GOP Presidential hopeful Romney seems a person who lacks boundaries when it comes to proselytizing the teachings of his Latter Day Saints (LDS) faith. I was troubled by Romney's speech (reciting passes from the Book of Mormon, and the King James Bible), to the victims of the Colorado Shooting. Is this what the American public is to expect from Romney in the future as the President of the United States and the leader of the country who will frequently address the public? Romney's behavior during this situation reassures me he is not the man to lead this country. If he is one who cannot restrain himself from spewing the teachings of his faith, perhaps he is best suited to remain in a religious leadership position for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – The Mormons.
Romney would much better of taking a different approach to free contraception than it is a war on religion. If he just looked to other single payer health care systems like the ones in Scandinavia he would find out that one the few things that are not covered is contraception. Why? Because contraception is not considered a part of health care but a life style choice. Nothing to do with religion.
Does Romney believe in his own words? Very doubtful!
This is getting rediculous. Romney has stepped on his own toes time and time again. Now he's claiming Obama has a war on religion through healthcare? This strategy will only work on the people who are already voting for Romney. it doesn't begin to reach people who are undecided. Romney just keeps looking more and more out of touch every day. Instead of spending millions on nonsense like this, he really should focus on how he's going to actually fix the economy. No, saying, "I'll fix the economy because Obama broke it," is not a solution. Romney's message is getting more and more confused and lost on voters. I will be very surprised if he wins.
Religion should be a choice, just as contraception should be a choice. Speaking as a girl raised in the south I know first hand about the religious influence and pressure placed on females from a very young age. I learned early that religion where I grew up was for men and that it was my duty to stay quiet because god really didn't love women. Well I am proud that the President is trying so hard to provide Health Care and by doing so provide contraceptives. What this does is provide a choice! Romney I have a question for you...if you are so prolife, why are you and yours fighting against a revolution to improve and extend life for Americans who suffer everyday because they can't afford to go to a much needed facility with doctors and staff? A president is suppose to look to the needs of the people, not to his own religious beliefs.
This country was founded by folks who came here to escape religious persecution.
Gays and liberals are eagerly ushering it back...
Romney is lurching from one ridiculous charge to the next in the desperate hope of finding one that people will actually believe. One hardly knows whether to laugh at him or feel sorry for him.
The real issue of course is that employers are involved in the health care choices of their employees in the first place. Here in Australia, health insurance is rightly considered a personal choice which employees make for themselves. An employer's only involvement is to pay a decent enough minimum wage so that people can afford it.
Americans seem to be blind to that issue...
Why does God need Romney to fight his battles? Let the all-powerful fight his own battles!
Oh, right.....I forgot......he doesn't exist.
never heared anything more stupid. Go home Willard Mitt Robmy !!
While the Pope today is backing away from the Catholic Church's objection to the use of contraceptives, Romney wants to deny contraceptives to employees of church-run corporations. No there isn't a war on Religion, there is condemnation of bigotry and those that would inflict their unenlightened view of the world on everyone around them.
Aww, how cute. Mitt needs to win over moderate voters, and he thinks the best way to do that is to launch a propaganda campaign that appeals only to the right wing fringe.
When you belong to a political party that has called our president a Muslim....nothing wrong with being one by the way.....And that same party has protested the building of Mosques across this nation...could be seen as denying people the right to practice their faith as well. Not to mention when an armed nutcase decides to kill innocent people for having the nerve to wear turbans in their Temple. This type of nonsense has no place in this country and Romney should be the last person to make ads such as this one. The GOP refused to nominate him in 2008 because of his faith.
Religion is something that should be between you and your Maker. That's it. Keep it to yourself, secure in your conviction that your beliefs are your beliefs, and you'll enjoy whatever reward awaits you in the hereafter. You aren't going to gain any extra brownie points from the Man Upstairs for walking through this life acting like you're something special because you're a part of an organized religion. There is no "war on religion", but there should be a war on stupidity. Warning: If you already drank the Republican Kool-Aid, then you'll believe anything you're told.
Romney is desperate.
I thought according to repub history it was Pres Reagon who destroyed the USSR with his massive military spending and telling the to tear down TEAR DOWN THE WALL, so is Romney anti american by giving credit to a foreigner and a european at that , shudder
Let's talk about your families history of leaving the US to have multiples wives
Ancient: think of all the loose screws on the right that want to teach the Earth is only 6,000 years old. On my tax dollar
Too. Ignore sciece.. That fits tiny minds
Wow, reduced to name calling now?
Sorry Mitt Romney but folks are sick and tired of religous nut cases running this world. We "you people" as your wife states are fighting back against people like you that want to dictate your religous agendas down our throats. I don't care what flavor you follow (and yes the Mormons are a cult with a prophet) people should never be forced to follow your Godly rules.
Amen and God bless.