The role of religion in politics

February 9, 2008 12:02:35 AM PST
Mitt Romney's campaign for president brought a lot of attention to the Mormon Church. But what role did religion actually play in the outcome of the republican Super Tuesday primary.

"I do not define my presidency by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith," said former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

There is still debate over the role Mitt Romney's Mormon faith may have played in his bowing out of the Republican race.

U.C. Berkeley Prof. Mike Hout is an expert in the role of religions. He spoke on Friday at Princeton University on voters' perception of Romney.

"It never got to the point of interrogating Romney as a Mormon, so much as Romney as a changeable heart--- Romney who ran on one platform in Massachusetts and a very different platform in the national debate," said U.C. Berkeley Professor Mike Hout.

He believes Romney had no chance of capturing the religious right vote with Huckabee in the race.

The vice chairman of the California Republican Party believes Romney still has a lot of political potential.

"I think Romney actually benefited in a lot of states from that Mormon appeal. But I think that the reality is Republicans tend to nominate people who have already run once before and this was Romney's first time," said California Republican Party Vice Chair Thomas Del Beccaro.

In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll from late January, 50-percent of Americans said they would be very "uncomfortable" about a Mormon as president. But some Mormons saw Romney's time in the limelight as a great opportunity.

"I think it has in fact brought a lot of limelight, a lot of attention to the Church, which we think in the long run is good. The more people get to know us, the better we think they'll know us as neighbors and friends," said President of the San Jose State of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Randy Mack.

And some believe Romney could take on yet another role.

"Romney should get consideration for being Vice President," said Del Beccaro.