Mitt Romney stumped for the “evangelical Christian vote in Pennsylvania on Saturday by promising a cheering crowd he would do “the opposite” of President Barack Obama and stand firm with Israel.
Polls show that Pennsylvania is solidly behind the president, but Republicans see a change in the surveys that indicate they have a shot at taking the state in the general elections in November. The last time a Republican presidential candidate won Pennsylvania was in 1988, when George Bush was elected after Ronald Reagan’s two terms as president.
Romney’s Mormon faith is an obstacle to his sewing up the evangelical Christian vote, and his speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an evangelical Christian political organization, made it clear to voters they must realize the urgency of supporting him. Faith and Freedom Coalition director Ralph Reed warned the audience that President Obama is waging what he called a “war against religion.”
Romney underlined the importance of backing Israel and stopping Iran from achieving nuclear capability. Obama is sounding “like he's more frightened that Israel might take military action than he's concerned that Iran might become nuclear,” said the unofficial de facto Republican candidate.
He drew scornful laughter from an appreciative crowd when he said of President Obama, "I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.”
The president's campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt responded that Obama has sent Israel “the largest security assistance packages in history" and is working with a coalition of Western countries to stop Iran’s nuclear development. Israelis leaders have said it may be too late to do so.
Romney made it clear he would favor military action, if necessary, to stop Iran. He said, without specifically calling for a military strike, "I would make it very clear that for us, as well as for them, it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear nation and that we're prepared to take any and all action to keep that from happening.”
He also said that if he were president now, he would encourage Turkey and Saudi Arabia to arm the opposition in Syria.
"I think we have to have a very careful review of who's giving a fair shot to the American people," Romney said Saturday.
Poll shows that Romney is trailing by at a least six percentage points but has not gained 50 percent of support because of undecided voters, Philadelphia Inquirer’s Thomas Fitzgerald noted last week.
“In addition, the president’s job approval rating in this survey (46 percent) is worse than his likability rating of 77 percent,” he added. “By 49 percent to 41 percent, respondents say that Romney would do a better job of handling the economy. Asked which candidate would create more jobs, 45 percent picked the Republican, to 43 percent who named Obama.”