Democratic strategist Rosen said she had been struck by Romney’s explanation in the video of how his shifting views on abortion over the years were unrelated to the views of his church, which opposes abortion. Anti-abortion politicians, she said, typically cite their religion as a primary factor in shaping their views on the issue.
“I just thought that was the most voluble explanation of his anti-choice view that we’ve seen,” Rosen said.
The issue came up in the 2007 interview when Mickelson asked Romney why his past support for abortion rights had not violated Mormonism. The question prompted a visibly angry Romney to argue that the church prohibits abortions but does not bar members from supporting the rights of others to make their own choices.
Romney did not point out that he had contended with the political implications of the church’s abortion views in the past. A former aide to Romney from his time as a leader in the Boston church would later recall that Romney had visited Salt Lake City shortly before his 1994 Senate bid, polling in hand, to show members of the church hierarchy that it was impossible to win in Massachusetts without supporting abortion rights. At the time, Romney told the aide, Ron Scott, that he had “left a few bridges burning, or at least smoldering.”
In the 2007 video interview, Romney told Mickelson that his opposition to abortion rights came about from a political decision, when as governor he faced a choice about the use of embryonic stem cells.
“Politically, I looked at it, I said, ‘You know what, that’s wrong,’” Romney told Mickelson. “And it’s not a Mormon thing, it’s a secular position to say, ‘You know what, I was wrong, we should have as a society a prohibition on abortion under the following circumstances.’ But it’s not violating my faith, let me assure you.”
Mickelson also quizzed Romney about his past statements that Christ would return to Jerusalem, a view shared by other Christians but which Mickelson argued was not the true view of Mormons. Some Mormons believe Missouri, one of the states traversed by early Mormon pioneers in their escape from persecution, is the site of the Garden of Eden and one of the places that Christ will rule from.