Poll deems Romney most religious of all White House hopefuls
By Thomas Burr
The Salt Lake Tribune
WASHINGTON - Many pundits have said that presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon faith will be a hindrance to his 2008 bid, but a new poll shows that voters believe he is more religious than any of the other contenders out there.
A Time magazine poll hitting newsstands this week asked voters whether each candidate is a "person of strong religious faith." One in four voters say that Romney is, more than Barack Obama, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
Previous polls have all shown that a distinct swath of voters - especially on the Republican side - say Romney's faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes them less likely to support his White House bid. The Time poll shows that 73 percent of GOP voters say his Mormon faith makes no difference to their vote, but 23 percent say it makes them worry.
Still, his supporters are thrilled with the fact that Romney is viewed as a religious person. "Certainly with the Republican primary, being seen as a man of strong faith is helpful," says Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics and a Romney backer.
Thirty-nine percent of those polled by Pulsar Research and Consulting for Time magazine correctly identified Romney as a Mormon, while 58 percent said they didn't know his religion.
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said the fact that his boss - the former Massachusetts governor and head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City - is seen as religious is a reflection of Romney's "focus on strong principles and values."
"The more people see and hear from Governor Romney, they recognize that he has a strong family, he is guided by strong principles and he is someone who is a person of faith," Madden said. "Those things are part of who he is and they're an important part of why people like and trust him."
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