GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is still feeling the repercussions from a secret video recording, leaked online more than a week ago, showing him dismissing nearly half of Americans as freeloaders.
This time, the backlash is coming from some of his fellow Mormons, who say the Romney running for president isn’t the face of the religion. Instead, they say that Romney sullies Mormonism, a religion that takes care of the poor and those in need, with that “47 percent” comment.
In May, while speaking to top donors at a fundraiser, Romney told the wealthy gathering that there are 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay taxes, support President Barack Obama and see themselves as “victims.” He said these are the Americans who feel the government is obliged to provide for them.
“My job is not to worry about those people,” Romney told the gathering. “I will never convince them.”
Romney has come under heavy criticism, including from conservative pundits who attacked him in the wake of the video's appearance, saying he was throwing away an election he could win.
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The video also provided fuel to the Obama campaign, which released a new ad shortly afterward featuring ordinary Americans expressing their disappointment with Romney’s rhetoric.
But now it’s fellow Mormons who are speaking out.
Mormon author Gregory A. Prince, a former Romney supporter, wrote in a blog post for the Huffington Post last week that the GOP nominee’s comments angered him.
“When the news of Mitt Romney's Florida video broke on Monday evening, I was incensed -- but not for its political implications,” Prince wrote. “His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share -- the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is to 'take care of the poor and needy throughout the world.’”
Prince added that his initial impulse was to “rent an airplane towing a banner that reads ‘Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism!’”
But Prince’s disdain for the nominee wasn’t always the case. In fact, he was a Romney supporter in late 2007, before he, in Prince’s opinion, changed his politics.
“Early in 2008, to my dismay, Romney 1.0 became Romney 2.0 by moving far enough to the right to lose my support,” Prince wrote. “He has kept moving ever farther to the right. He has made this move in a successful attempt to gain the nomination and in an ongoing attempt to persuade no more than 53 percent of the country that he should be the next president.”
The highest-ranking Mormon in elected office in the nation is also unhappy with the "47 percent" video. Granted, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, is on the opposite side of the aisle from Romney, but his comments highlight the risks that Romney faces in the state, where a bad economy and an especially deep housing crisis would otherwise help him against President Obama.
The backlash from Reid came during a conference call with reporters, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, and came just days before Romney is due to visit Nevada Friday.
“He’s coming to a state where there are a lot of members of the LDS Church,” Reid said, as quoted by the Salt Lake paper. “They understand that he is not the face of Mormonism.”
Romney hasn’t apologized for his remarks and said he was speaking “off the cuff.”
Still, other top Mormons aren't unhappy with him. One even said his run is good thing for the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.
As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, J.W. Marriott, who heads the Marriott hotel chain and is a family friend of Romney, told the presidential nominee’s church congregation in Wolfeboro, N.H., that “there has never been as much positive attention to the church, thanks to the wonderful campaign of Mitt Romney and his family.”