BOSTON – Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, often questioned about how his Mormon faith would affect a potential presidential run, said Wednesday he envisions mimicking John F. Kennedy and explaining his religion to the public.
The Massachusetts governor said he imagines a speech evolving out of inevitable curiosity about his faith and its potential impact on presidential decision-making. He has already said that while his religious beliefs are integral to his life, they do not unduly influence his political judgments.
“I think if I decided to go national that there will probably be a time when people will ask questions, and it will be about my faith, and I’ll have the opportunity to talk about the role of religion in our society and in the leadership of our nation,” Romney said.
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Kennedy, then a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, took the same approach in September 1960 when he was attempting to become the first Catholic president. He told the Houston Ministerial Association, “I do not speak for my church on public matters and my church does not speak for me.”
Romney, who is not seeking re-election this fall, has said he will likely announce whether he is running for president sometime next year.
Most of the questions about his faith have centered on whether conservative Christians, including southern evangelicals, will support a Mormon. Some have labeled the faith a “cult,” and it once had unorthodox practices such as polygamy.
The governor said he expected questions similar to those faced by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an observant Orthodox Jew who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000.
“I think it’s true our faiths are not as well known,” Romney said. “So I think people will ask questions about something about which they’re less familiar.”
In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, which first reported about the potential speech, Romney said his faith would influence a potential candidacy in one way – it’s unlikely he would choose a Mormon as the vice presidential nominee.
“Two Mormons? I don’t think that’ll work,” Romney told the magazine.