(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."
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"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."
– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.
As soon as a church makes the conscious decision to enter the marketplace and take on employees, it should have to follow the same rules as any other company. If the Church does not want to follow those rules, it can make the CHOICE not to be involved in the public marketplace. This is where the choice lies. To force yourself into the public domain and then whine for special treatment while undermining the right of their employees is wrong.
Since most Catholic women use birth control, wouldn't this be a stupid move on Mitt's part?
Wake up...Women will not stand in support of an individual who wants to deny them the rights that they are suppose to hav,e for there health coverage..Is this a war on women, religion has nothing to do with it.. Please...Obama/Biden2012
looks like you will use or try anything to change the subject. you don't even know or remember what you are really for or against you have flip floped so much you lost track! the only way anyone can know who you really are is"RELEASE YOU TAX RETURNS" that will tell us who you really are mittens!
My religion prohibits using federal tax dollars to defend and shelter pedophiles. So I guess Romney will be abolishing the religious tax exemption.
Romney is getting totally desperate ... and completely obnoxious. Today’s Republican / Tea Party is owned and controlled by “the money” who they dutifully cater to. They literally take the majority for granted as they feel confident that with the money, power and influence of their strong supporters they can con the people and manipulate public opinion at their will. Besides, their being fixated on serving “the money’s” interests just doesn’t leave any room to really serve the people. It has been said that the current Republican / Tea Party is incapable of honestly and responsibly governing for the people, the majority, and throughout the last twelve years they have totally substantiated that. The facts they constantly demonstrate fully substantiate all of this and to ignore the reality is just self-delusional and even self-defeating. Want better from them, then firmly reject them for what they have become and they will get the message.
Protestant Christians defend liberty of conscience best. I'm not familliar with what Mr. Romney's world view is, that he would be the best defender of religious liberty.
No wonder Romney's unfavorability rating continues to go up . I find it interesting that he is now using religion, yesterday it was welfare, since he has no "soul." The man will say and do anything to get elected, even if it is a lie. His campaign has no new ideas, so he has to resort to old GOP tricks to dviide people. Now religion. Disgusting.
Only thing this guy can talk about is Obama. Mittens is Obsessed with him.
Lets hear something different , like, how about whats your plans ? We already all know
how you feel about Mr. President, you cant stop talking about him.....broken record.
The only "war on religion" I've seen lately is a white supremacist killing people in a Sikh house of worship.
I would love to hear something constructive from Mr. Romney. I have yet to hear anything of the sort.
If liberals and lefties are so concerned about saving lives then they should BAN ABORTION CLINICS!
Yes, it will be FAR better when all law abiding citizens are unarmed and only criminals are walking around with guns.
Why are liberals ALWAYS on the side of the criminals???
It's honorable that Romney is willing to defend religion when some of those same religions are waging a war of hate and misinformation on Romney's own religion.
While Republicans focus on trying to eliminate women's access to birth control, Obama continues to focus on the economy.
These guys kill me. As a recipient of 15 years of Catholic education, I have to laugh when I hear the Catholic hierarchy complain of persecution whenever government action inhibits thier ability to control, intimidate and bully their parishoners or employees. What a joke. it's not the government's responsibility to help the Catholic Church controil the reproductive habits of their followers or employees. Only the completely brainwashed could possibly buy this load of trash. Read a little history and figure out whether the Catholic Church has been on the giving or receiving end of persecution. "War on Reiligion" indeed.
The more Romney talks, the faster his poll numbers go down.
In my opinion, chickenhawks like Romney began a war on religion when they enthusiastically supported the unnecessary and torture-laden Iraq holocaust that violated Christian Just War Criteria.
"There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. ……It was right to resist the war.” Pope Benedict XVI
“It is essential not to lose sight of the moral dimension of war. ……..The War in Iraq did not even come close to satisfying the requirements of a just war.” Ron Paul
Romeny should not be the first to cast a stone. His "religion" the Mormon "cult" has killed Native Amercians. x and x again.
The latest was in the forced removal of 12,000 Dineh' in 1997. In 2000 the elders took the video of their existiance and the UN and world leaders state in horror at what they saw and heard.
Who is using "reilgion??????? Not Obama.
Romney, you should be VERY sory for all you have said and done and paid for.
You will be held accountable for it. Contrary to what you think, you will not be a god when you pass from this life.......
Heaven help you. That is all that can.
People............................you want this greedy individual to "lead " your country?
He can not lead himself much less a country.
This is hilarious! Romeny, who belongs to a cult, embarrasses himself overseas and refers to the Sikh religion as shieks.
Obama is against EVERYTHING EXCEPT food stamps.
Mr. Romney is saying there iis a war on religion. The Health Care rules have been changed as an accommodation to those religions that could not meet the health insurance requirements. President Obama has shown that he will work with others. The biggest problem is the Congress will not work with the White House. If they did they are afraid that President Obama would be elected again. The leadership has already stated that fact. When Congress members mature enough to do the countries business instead of bickering and in-fighting the Country will get legislation that everyone can live with. There are no winners or losers when groups are willing to compromise. Unfortunately, the Republicans will not do so.
No "real" Christian would ever vote for a Mormon to be president.
This just shows the boundless hypocrisy of the right.
Ok Mitt....what's your plan for America?
Or do we have to wait until you're elected to find out you don't have one.
Just what Mitt wants another Crusades.
Why do Mittens continue to write material for Bill Maar. I cant wait for him to com back from vacation. This Sh!tttt is funny.