A number of prominent evangelical leaders are warning that if presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain selects Mitt Romney as his running mate, their followers will abandon the GOP in November.
They are wary of the former Massachusetts governor is part because he is a Mormon, and they are skeptical about his stand on abortion and same-sex marriage, The Washington Times reports.
“We aren’t against Mormonism, but Romney is not a thoroughgoing evangelical and his flip-flopping on issues is understandable in a liberal state like Massachusetts, but our people won’t understand that,” said evangelical novelist Tim LaHaye.
Choosing Romney “will alienate the entire evangelical community — 62 million self-professing evangelicals in this country, half of them registered to vote, are going to be deeply saddened,” Rev. Rob McCoy, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and a frequent speaker at evangelical events across the country, told The Times.
“I will vote for McCain unless he does one thing,” he added. “If he puts Romney on the ticket as veep.”
Evangelical voters favored Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, in the GOP nomination contest earlier this year, and many of his supporters do not regard Mormonism as a Christian denomination.
In fact, a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press last year found that 45 percent of white evangelicals do not believe Mormons are Christians, and 39 percent said they have an unfavorable view of Mormons.
One evangelical leader confided to The Times that selecting Romney as a running mate would likely cost McCain up to 10 percent of the evangelical vote — enough to spell defeat for McCain in a close race against Democrat Barack Obama.
President Bush got 35 percent of his votes from evangelicals in 2004.
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