SALT LAKE CITY -- Rick Santorum claims Mitt Romney likely skipped a Christian forum held in Des Moines Saturday because he's uncomfortable talking about "why you believe what you believe and where that came from."
The event, sponsored by conservative group The Family Leader, aimed at getting to the heart of candidates' core moral and religious beliefs.
Romney, whose campaign didn't immediately respond to Santorum's accusations, collected key endorsements in New Hampshire instead.
Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum appeared to compete with each other at the event, delivering harsh words about abortion and gay marriage.
Only Romney and Jon Huntsman, two moderate Mormons, stayed away from the discussion held at the First Federated Church.
In other religion news>
- The New York Times reported on how the "Mormons' Ad Campaign May Play Out on the '12 Campaign Trail" this weekend. It focused on the multimillion-dollar TV, billboard and Internet advertising campaign called "I'm a Mormon." The campaign began last year and recently extended to 21 media markets. The paper points out the church did not time the ad campaign to help Mormon candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, but "the church's campaign could prove to be a pivotal factor in the race for the presidency," as it aims to help the image of Mormons. The Times says the church is intentionally not airing the campaign in states that have early primaries.
- A study by an evangelical Christian polling firm suggests no single Christian leader captures Americans' attention. When the Barna Group asked American adults to identify the single most influential Christian leader in the country today, two out of every five (41%) couldn't think of anyone. One out of five named Billy Graham. Half as many (9%) named "the Pope" or Pope Benedict to be the most significant Christian leader in the nation. Nearly the same proportion (8%) named President Barack Obama.