(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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I will go as far to say that there is a war against religious zealots who wish to impose their sometimes extreme beliefs on the entire human race.
YAAWWWWNNN. Someone should declare war on religion. Thousands of years of it and not a single concrete answer grounded in reality that would be applicable today. Want the only usable aspect of religion? Live and let live.
We all have a voice inside our head – our own. If you tell someone you actually hear another voice instructing your decisions, they will have you picked up by men in white coats. End the charade. Tax em at least...
Apparently you can make up whatever you want bc people are dumb and ignorant, and they will believe it and die for it. How about conservatives war on common sense and intelligence?
Romney's own Mormon religion has nothing but contempt for Christianity. Do some research on Joseph Smith. Smith insisted that he met God and Jesus (two different people for Mormons) and God stated that the various Christian denominations were an an abomination in His eyes. Check out ExposeRomney website.
Wow! He did it! He opened the door to religion debate. Wonder how he's going to handle explaining his non-christian beliefs to his evan-fundie supporters? This is going to be spectacular as this constituancy realizes what they've been backing and just how much it is in opposition of their own beliefs. Thankfully, this campaign is imploding even before the convention.
So only two days after a right wing extremist kills seven people for attending temple services Romney releases this ad on some phoney war on religion? I am appalled and outraged at his insensitivity. People are dying for religious freedom at the hands of right wing gun toting haters and he attacks the great evil of preventive healthcare for women as some kind of religious war? Just makes me ill.
Another immoral lie from Romney.
Politifact rendered this absurd claim false months ago, but Romney still knowingly repeats the lie. Not presidential material.
I still think Jon Stewart said it best: "You've confused a war on your religion with not getting everything you want."
There are real issues in this country – why is Romney running on nonsense?
My theory: There's no actual problem he has a good track record with that he hasn't already taken vastly apposing positions on, or for some other reason has compromised his position.
Release your taxes already, and then you can try talking again about your financial acumen again.
To approve a message claiming that Obama has declared "War on Religion" is inane and pathetic.
What do you know, another ignorant man running for office. Classic misdirection from someone with no answer and no argument. No real legitimate skills to display, so he makes ridiculous attack ads to rile up ignorant citizens to vote passionately for issues that aren't even relevant.
How does the health care bill threaten "religious freedom"? No one is being FORCED to take contraceptives.
I think it's sick that VIAGRA has long-been a "medication" covered by insurance prescription plans that men can get for free or cheap in order to get it up but it is soooo taboo by religious zealots like Romney that women even have the choice of birth control.
Look, this IS a free country, and you can not force YOUR religious beliefs on everyone else. Talk about taking away peoples' religious freedoms – conservatives and the religious right (and left) are such hypocrits as they try to make their religious law national law. There is a SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. Get over it. Yours are not the only values and ideas in this country or on this planet.
I personally don't even use birth control because of my own religious beliefs but I don't believe those beliefs should be national law and it blatantly violates the constitution that they equate their religious laws on gays, birth control and many other issues to something that should be federal or state law. It just doesn't work that way.
Romneys new ad on Pres.Obamas war on religion is more propaganda from someone desperatly grasping for anything to slow down this Mormon lepers challenger.The catholic church came out and started this mess,you didn't hear from the Baptist,Protestants ,even Mormons they kept to them selves about this contraceptive debate.The incumbent is looking out for the women of this era not the women Catholic priests are trying to protect,the 15th century era ones,those days are gone and women don't like being treated as only procreators.Religion shouldn't be used in politics as a debate or an ad as Romney and his surrogates have previously used,especialy from the mormons who as a religious group or cult have now just recently come around to the modern world where they finally recognise black people and don't practice polygamy,at least here stateside except in Utah.So to all you born again Christians and hypocritical republicans,you brought it on as usual,you always do during the election cycle like abortion or SocialSecurity ,its always the same and it goes away just as quickly as the polls are closed till next time,you know it and are in denile if you think anything differently.Seperation of church and state should be enforced legally and religious groups would think twice about creating problems when more important things like the economy needs the attention of the Senate and your obstructionistic Congress,remember republicans jobs,jobs,jobs where are they,ha!!!
Mittens trying to change the course of his sinking ship.
The problem with Romney's ads are they appeal to far right base. They are not going to vote for Obama no matter want.
Mittens might have been a bit more on point concerning extreme right-wing organizations and their real war on religion but he understands he cannot anger his base-they're scary as a heart attack.
war on religion give me a break! the GOP has been suckering christrians out of their votes for decades! abortion is one example when they had complete control of the house, senate and white house they made no moves in congress to make it against the law. they used their last biggest reasonnot to make a move telling religous leaders that "we could change it but until we change the supreme court it will stay the same because they will over ride the law". i am a man who believes in god and lives my life the the best way i can by his teachings and rules. i have got to tell you that i don't go to church because the right wing ideas andpolitical involvement that the church has been preaching made me and many other democrats unwelcome in my fathers house! these repubs with their lies won't ever sucker me out of my vote with their worship of greed and money. mittens even thinks he is a successful man because he has alot of mans creation "money"! god doesn't even use the stuff christains wise up!
And you, Romney, Ryan, Palin, Santorum, Bachmann and the GOP zealot driven have declared war on all religions but your own, war on women's rights, war on the middle class hard working people, war on medicare, war on social security and war on everything else that is not in accord with the ultra right wing ideology .That is the real war.Romney, you are marching to the drum of haters. Shame on you!
@obama is out of touch: Sooooo I was not aware that growth, life, Christians and American patriots were a race. So if you were going to take the SAT's (in some far off distance dream) are any of these what you would list as a race? Thats exactly why I cant take conservatives seriously. Its all fury and no fact. All rage and no reason.
Mormons have declared war on Judaism by posthumasely baptizing Jews. They even go so far as breaking an agreement with the Jewish community to not baptize holocaust victims. They broke that agreement when Anne Frank was baptized at a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic.
So who is truly declaring a religious war Governor Romney the Mormon?
Romney is correct. Obama has in fact already started a war on religion.
Obama as anti-religion and will make religious people pay any way he can, the Chicago way.
This article is a good example of the war on religion, using a poll to indicate what they think is right (54% want contraception covered). It does a good job of ignoring the Constitution: religions do not run on polls, they run on conscience, and that God-given right was guaranteed by our founders. Whether you believe or not is immaterial; our Constitution guarantees our right to follow our conscience/religion without interference. The contraception/abortifacient order by the government was clearly intended to attack religious people. An institution cannot preach one thing then violate that same thing by force of government.
This is laughable and absurd...like much of the Romney campaign.
"Let's start hearing the bad things about Mormonism"
Now now, almost every religion sounds absolutely ridiculous when you're an independent, objective third party listening to a didactic recitation of their beliefs and dogma as opposed to when you're one of its adherents. Dude got up from the dead. Holy tableware and underwear. Prophecy and communing with angels. Alien genocides. Talking shrubberies. All of it sounds pretty much insane, so even if someone explains Mormonism (or any of them) in a very academic-type manner, it's still going to sound like whoever believes that stuff ate the ergot-infested ryebread. So, the only result will be Mittens' campaign throwing a tantrum and accusing whoever it was of "going there" on his religion.
Romney's stance, as all republicans since 2008, has been to be against anything Obama is for. Regardless of what it is. Obama has outplayed them time and time again. He has managed to make republicans look worse than they did in 2008. He has managed to turn his chances of being re-elected with a bad economy and unemployment numbers to about 50-50.
But let's not give him too much credit. He had alot of help from republicans. Boehner getting 98% of what he wanted in the debt deal that resulted in our credit being downgraded. The record number of filibusters. The focus on jobs that resulted in record number of abortion and more recently voting law changing bills. Focusing on decreasing the budget by eliminating entities they don't like such as NPR and PP while advocating recently for an (get this) increasing in military spending.
These false ads aren't helping in the least. Neither side is putting forth much truth in the attack ads. This is one of the ones with not a shred of truth. Especially in light of the religious folks being split in whether or not this violates their religion to begin with. Especially when many of them signed off on this years ago.
Well Said Commentary42. You have it exactly righ imho.