Mormons Romney, Huntsman Take Different Church Paths on Campaign Trail

Tuesday, 10 May 2011 02:59 PM

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, the two potential Republican presidential candidates who are Mormons, have taken a different approach when it comes to their faith on the campaign trail. While in South Carolina over the weekend, Huntsman headed to a nondenominational church instead of one of the six Mormon churches in Charleston, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.

The former ambassador to China was in South Carolina, one of the key early primary states, courting supporters and donors as he gauges whether to launch a presidential bid. He attended the mega-church called Seacost with Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who could be an important ally in the state.

Last year, Huntsman said he was not overly religious. That has some questioning whether he’s distancing himself from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who served as Huntsman’s gubernatorial campaign manager and first chief of staff, says Huntsman taught a priesthood class in his local church during his 2004 campaign. And while in office, he occasionally attended an LDS service near the Governor’s Mansion.

“But the governor went out of his way week in and week out to visit other churches,” Chaffetz says. “He felt it imperative to reach out.”

Chaffetz said it was typical of the then-governor to show up at churches of all denominations. “This is not an election-year phenomenon,” he says.

Conversely, Romney served as a lay leader in his Belmont ward and also as a stake president in the area/ Fellow Mormons say he frequently attends his LDS ward when he’s in Massachusetts.

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