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Romney's Mormon faith new focus of attacks from Reid

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Updated: 9/26/2012 10:13 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Sen. Harry Reid is going after Mitt Romney again -- this time over the Mormon faith they share.

This fight goes on in a battleground state where both candidates need a win, and Nevada’s senior senator has turned into an attack dog.

College of Southern Nevada Political Science Professor Mark Peplowski says if President Barack Obama wins, it helps Reid's clout to have a Democrat in the White House.

“Sen. Reid's trying to convince the Mormons to stay home instead of blindly voting for the LDS candidate,” Peplowski said. “He wants them to think, ‘hey, have second thoughts about this.’

“If there's a chance he could sway even 100 voters, it could make a difference not only in the presidential race, but down ticket.”

Reid also could use a victory from Democrat Shelly Berkley over U.S. Sen. Dean Heller to help him keep his Democratic majority.

Peplowski says Reid's religious Romney rebuff doesn't carry much risk.

“When Harry attacks Romney on his Mormon credentials, he's speaking as one from the inside, not the outside,” Peplowski said.

While there hasn't been a Mormon president, Mormons have part of Las Vegas' power elite for decades. They sit on school boards and city councils.

Las Vegas City Councilman and LDS member Steve Ross said Reid’s remarks did not bother him.

“I had no reaction to it whatsoever,” Ross said. “Senator Reid certainly has his right to his opinion about Governor Romney's campaign for president.”

Ross focuses on the positive of having a Mormon run for the highest office in the land.

“I think Governor Romney's campaign for president is great for the Church of Jesus Christ for Latter Day Saints in a sense that it certainly bring a new awareness and light on the church, and people are interested about what the Mormon beliefs are,” he said.
Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, also a Mormon, joined the debate.

Huntsman, who has also served as Utah's governor and as a U.S. ambassador to China early in the Obama administration, says this election isn't about choosing a pastor-in-chief, but a commander-in-chief.

He told News 3’s Elizabeth Crum, co-host of “The Agenda,” that the concentration should be on the issues like the economy and not on religion.

“First of all, let's keep religion out of politics,” Huntsman said. “I think we want a conversation that speaks to the real germane issues that we face as Americans.

“Second of all, I think the face of Mormonism is becoming increasingly diverse, and that's probably a good thing. So it's really hard to define what that face is. But let's stick with the issues; let's keep the sideshows to a minimum.”
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