(Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Republican Mitt Romney, who would be the first Mormon to get to the White House if elected in November, spoke openly about his faith on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, saying his decision to run for president came partly from Judeo-Christian values.
Romney told NBC host David Gregory that it would have been very easy for him to just stay in business. "I like business. That's fun. But when the Olympic request came along, Ann said, 'You've got to do this. This is important.' And when I ran for governor, 'This is important.' And now when I'm running for president. I think that comes in part from this Judeo-Christian ethic of service and commitment to one's fellow man."
Romney's critics say the wealthy GOP candidate is out of touch with common Americans who are struggling in difficult times, but the former Massachusetts governor, with his wife Ann alongside, told NBC that their faith helped them to bridge that gap.
"I'm convinced that my background, and my heritage and my faith have made me the person I am to a great degree," Romney said. "The sense of -- obligation to one's fellow man. An absolute conviction that we are all sons and daughters of the same God and therefore in a human family -- is one of the reasons I am doing what I'm doing."
Ann Romney supported her husband by saying they knew what it is like to struggle. "I know that people are suffering right now," she said. "And for people to think that we don't have empathy just because we're not suffering like they're suffering is ridiculous ... Our life has always been devoted to those that are struggling more than we are."
She said their struggles had not been financial but they had been with health and other difficulties in life. She talked about multiple sclerosis she has been suffering with, which she called her teacher. "It has been at times a cruel teacher. But it has also been a great gift in my life because it has taught me to be more compassionate and caring for others who are suffering, and I know that people are suffering right now … Our lives have always been devoted to those that are struggling more than we are, and I am grateful for the opportunity that we had at the convention for others to speak up and talk about the kind of lives we've led."
When the host asked if the Mormons had "gotten past a level of persecution," the Republican nominee said, "I'm sure a number of members of my faith are proud of the fact that someone of my faith – our faith – is able to run for president."
Ann added, "I mean, it's always wonderful when milestones like that are accomplished, and I think that was why we were all so pleased with the last election – seeing that a black man was elected president of the United States. It made us proud as Americans to know that those prejudices that we've had in the past are falling away."