Mitt Romney makes Mormonism part of his speech during tonight's Republican National Convention
"He's trying to find the right register, and those around him who advise him are trying to find the right register. Now, it seems, the push is to make him look human, that means emphasizing the admittedly wonderful things he has done in the church to help people," said Laurie Maffly-Kipp, a religion scholar at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who writes frequently about the LDS church. "The trick is to do that without bringing up the parts of Mormonism that might sound odd to others."
A Gallup poll in June found that voter bias against Mormons has barely budged for decades. In the survey, 18 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a well-qualified presidential candidate who happens to be a Mormon, compared to 17% who said so in 1967, when Romney's father George had been seeking the Republican nomination.
However, the campaign clearly felt more confident discussing the LDS Church since Romney sealed the nomination.
Polls indicate that Republican voters are willing to set aside their concerns about the LDS church to oust President Barack Obama. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that a majority of people who know that Romney is Mormon are comfortable with his religion or don't consider it a concern. In the days leading up to the convention, Romney told interviewers he prays daily and discussed the doubts he experienced about his religion when he, like most young Mormon men, fulfilled his church duty to serve as a missionary. Romney served in overwhelmingly Catholic France during the 1960s, and faced hostility as an American and a Mormon.
"I don't think underlying attitudes have changed," said John Green, director of the University of Akron's Bliss Institute for Applied Politics. "I don't think evangelicals are any less skeptical about Mormons, but an election is a choice and Republicans have something to work with here because of the unpopularity of Obama among this group of evangelicals."
AP reporter Steve Peoples in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.
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