- (Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts, Molly Riley)
Evangelicals are least likely compared to the rest of the American public to support a Mormon candidate for president. Perhaps that's why this year's two Mormon contenders showed up Friday at a major faith conference.
Both Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman were featured speakers at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C.
The two offered vastly different speeches, with Romney focusing more on the economy and Huntsman highlighting the value of human life.
While the former Massachusetts governor criticized President Obama's economic policies and the rise in unemployment (9.1 percent), which he called a moral crisis, former Utah governor Huntsman appealed to the faith crowd touting his pro-life record.
Huntsman talked about how he adopted his two daughters. One of them had been abandoned at a Chinese market. When asked who found her, the 10-year-old daughter would reply "Jesus."
Also highlighting the anti-abortion bills that he signed, he remarked, "I don't think the Republican Party should focus on our economic life to the neglect of our human life. That is a trade we should not make.”
“If Republicans ignore life, the deficit we will face is one that is much more destructive. It will be a deficit of the heart and of the soul.”
Romney, who officially launched his bid for the White House on Thursday, steered clear of social issues during his talk Friday night. Since his speech on Thursday in New Hampshire, he has been building his platform on job creation.
But he made a few mentions about the sanctity of human life to the faith crowd on Friday.
"We’re united in our belief in the sanctity of human life. We’re united in the importance of marriage between one man and one woman, and we’re united in our belief in America," he said.
Their appearances came just a day after the Pew Research Center released a survey showing that a majority (58 percent) of white evangelicals said it wouldn't matter whether a candidate was Mormon or not. Among Americans overall, 68 percent said it wouldn't matter.
Still, a big chunk of surveyed evangelicals (34 percent) said they are less likely to back a Mormon for president. Twenty-five percent of Americans overall said the same.
The Faith and Freedom Conference concludes Saturday. Other featured speakers on Friday included GOP presidential hopefuls and candidates Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul, among others.