Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney refused once again to appease the social conservative bloc, refusing to sign a pro-marriage pledge that generated controversy for language, since removed, that appeared to endorse slavery.

The pledge, circulated by the conservative Christian organization Family Leader, urges candidates to reject same-sex marriage, condemn pornography and foreswear Sharia Law. Romney had previously refused to sign a pledge known as the Susan B. Anthony List that affirmed opposition to abortion.

A Romney campaign spokesperson told The Associated Press that Romney supports traditional marriage but believed the Family Leader pledge contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign. That was likely a reference to not only the current language of the oath but a now eliminated passage -- present when Michele Bachmann signed -- noting that a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President,

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Monday he likes Texas Governor Rick Perry. But Romney said he is more qualified to create jobs. Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Romney is the first candidate to explicitly reject the oath -- Bachmann and Rick Santorum have signed it, while others have remained silent. His decision reflects a strategy less focused on the social issues informing the early Iowa caucus, with its large base of evangelical voters, than on his message of economic stewardship.