HOWARD, Wis. – A tense moment transpired during a town hall hosted by Mitt Romney today in Wisconsin when an audience member began reading verses from the Book of Mormon and questioned Romney on his stance on interracial relationships.
When a man’s hand shot up in the air to ask a question, Romney seemed to take note that he was holding papers, typically a sign that the questioner has a long-winded question they’ve chosen to write out, and as the man began to speak remarked, “I know where this is going. Ha. Ha. Ha.”
“Your Mormon faith might not be a concern in the election but I think it might be as well as I found these verses in the Mormon book,” said 28-year-old Bret Hatch, as the microphone turned on.
As Hatch trialed off, Romney interjected: “Why don’t you give me a question?”
“Ok, well, in the Mormon book it says there were a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan that they were despised,” Hatch continued.
“I’m sorry we’re just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view, but if you have a question, I’ll be happy to answer your question,” Romney said.
“I guess my question is do you believe it’s a sin for a white man to marry and procreate with a black?” asked Hatch.
“No,” Romney responded sternly, before turning to face the other side of the room.
“Next question,” said Romney.
While Romney shot down the discussion of religion at the time, just moments later when asked how he’d respond to being characterized as “out of touch,” Romney volunteered a story about the time he served as a pastor for his church.
“I’ve had an unusual experience,” said Romney. “This gentleman wanted to talk about the doctrines of my religion. I’ll talk about the practices of my faith. I had the occasion in my church to be asked to be the pastor, if you will, of a congregation. And I’ve served in that kind of role for about 10 years. And that gave me the occasion to work with people on a very personal basis that were dealing with unemployment, with marital difficulties, with health difficulties of their own and with their kids.” “People have burdens in this country, and when you get a chance to know people on a very personal basis, whether you’re serving as a pastor or perhaps as a counselor or in other kinds of roles, you understand that every kind of person you see is facing some challenges. And one of the reasons I’m running for president of the United States is I want to help people, I want to lighten that burden,” he said.
Hatch later told reporters that he is a Ron Paul supporter and had come to the Romney event to find out if the candidate believed in the Book of Mormon. “Either he believes the Book of Mormon, or he doesn’t,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. So either he believes it, and he believes what these things say right here, or he doesn’t. And from what I understand he just denounced his faith up there.”
“I think that’s an important issue,” said Hatch. “He’s going up against a black guy! He’s going against Obama. This is a racial issue.”