His campaign at a crossroads, Republican Mitt Romney said Thursday his Mormon faith should neither help nor hinder his quest for the White House and vowed to serve the interests of the nation, not the church, if elected president.

"When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God," Romney said in a speech that explicitly recalled remarks John F. Kennedy made in 1960 in an effort to quell anti-Catholic bias.

After declining for months to address the issue of his Mormonism directly, Romney switched course as polls showed widespread unease about his religion — and showed him losing his once-sizable lead in the opening Iowa caucuses to Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister and former governor of Arkansas.

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Romney seeks to defuse concerns over Mormon faith

By Michael Luo

New York Times News Service

Seeking to defuse suspicions about his Mormon faith, Mitt Romney declared here Thursday in a heavily anticipated address that the nation's foundation of religious liberty bars a religious test for higher office but unites the country under a common moral heritage that he would champion if elected president.

Romney did not dwell on the doctrines of his faith, mentioning the word Mormon only once. But he promised that he would not be beholden to the authorities of his church, and he devoted most of his 20-minute address here at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library to a call for a robust role for religion in public life.

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Romney casts himself as a candidate of faith

By Stewart M. Powell

Hearst Newspapers

Presidential contender Mitt Romney on Thursday campaigned for the 2008 GOP nomination as a man of faith, directly mentioning his Mormon background only once in a speech originally billed as an effort to allay any concerns about his religion.

Buoyed by an introduction by former President George H.W. Bush, Romney mentioned "faith" 22 times, "religion" 25 times — but his own Mormon background only once — during the 25-minute address to an enthusiastic, invited audience at Bush's presidential library in College Station, Texas.

The event had all the visual trappings of a high-powered political endorsement. The podium, bedecked with a replica of a presidential seal, was flanked by 10 American flags, and it was easy to envision future TV commercials based on the occasion.

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Romney moves to allay Mormon concerns directly

By Linda Feldmann

The Christian Science Monitor

In an echo of John F. Kennedy's election-eve address on Catholicism 47 years ago, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sought to allay concerns Thursday over his Mormon faith before an audience of invited guests at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.

Without delving into the specifics of Mormon doctrine, Mr. Romney invoked the Founding Fathers in asserting the nation's religious underpinnings, called for religious tolerance and highlighted the "common creed of moral convictions" within the varied theologies of American churches.

And, just as the future President Kennedy promised in 1960 that he would not accept instruction from the pope, Romney promised that as president he would answer to "no one religion."

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Romney urges protection against secularism

By W. Gardner Selby

Cox News Service

Stepping beyond John F. Kennedy's nearly 50-year-old commitment to absolute separation of church and state, Mitt Romney declared Thursday that the nation is rooted in religious values that leaders must preserve against secularism.

The former Massachusetts governor's chase of the Republican presidential nomination has been threatened in the early-voting state of Iowa by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister. In his speech, Romney echoed Kennedy's remarks in Houston before Kennedy won the presidency in 1960.

Like Kennedy, who reaffirmed his Catholic allegiance, Romney said he wouldn't forsake his Mormon religion. Like Kennedy, Romney also said he wouldn't be ruled by his church if elected president.

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Christian conservatives receptive to Romney's speech

By Wayne Slater

The Dallas Morning News

Moving to win over Christian conservatives wary of his Mormon faith, Republican Mitt Romney said Thursday his religion shouldn't preclude him from being president and wouldn't dictate his decisions if elected.

"I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest," Romney said in a speech that comes as Mike Huckabee has gone ahead in polls in Iowa with strong support from evangelicals.

Christian conservatives who heard Thursday's speech at the George Bush Presidential Library generally gave Romney good marks. But the test of whether the former Massachusetts governor can win over religious conservatives won't come until the Iowa presidential caucuses next month.

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Romney says there is no religious test for presidency

By Hans Nichols

Bloomberg News

Republican candidate Mitt Romney told an audience in Texas today that there should be no religious test for the presidency and those who question his beliefs violate the spirit of the country's founding.

Romney, in a speech at the George Bush Presidential Library, sought to confront skeptics among some evangelical Christians about his Mormon faith as he has surrendered his Iowa lead in some polls to Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister and ex-governor of Arkansas.

"If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest," Romney said. "A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."

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Romney would 'put no doctrine' above presidential office

By Jay Root and David Lightman

McClatchy Newspapers

Mitt Romney vowed Thursday that his Mormon religion would never interfere with his Oval Office duties, but after his much-anticipated speech there was no consensus on whether he'd halted his slide in key polls or erased doubts among Republican skeptics.

The former Massachusetts governor made his stance clear in a 20-minute address at the George H.W. Bush presidential library: "I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law. ... A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."