Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rudy Giuliani as the least
religious of the major presidential candidates, according to
a poll released Thursday. Mitt Romney was seen as most
religious, but his Mormonism may hurt him with voters.
Seven in 10 in
the nonpartisan Pew Research Center poll said they believe
it is important for a president to have strong religious
beliefs, including broad majorities of both parties.
Most also see each major presidential hopeful as at
least somewhat religious-- important because
people who view a candidate as religious are likelier
to have a favorable opinion of them.
expressing an opinion on the candidates' beliefs, 46% said
they consider Romney, a Republican contender, to be
very religious, far more than any other candidate. Yet
a quarter of all Republicans, including 36% of white
evangelical Protestants, said they would be less likely to
vote for a Mormon.
Kevin Madden said the former Massachusetts governor has
''the same hopes and aspirations for his country'' as
voters, adding, ''Any sort of abstract aversion toward
him because of his denomination will likely fade.''
former New York City mayor, was considered very religious
by 14%, while 16% said the same of Clinton, the Democratic
New York senator.
spoken often of her Methodist upbringing and said her
religion helped hold her marriage together. Giuliani, a
divorced Roman Catholic who favors abortion rights,
has said his relationship with God is private.
''There are many
things about Senator Clinton that people don't know, and
one of those things is that she is a person of faith,'' said
Clinton spokesman Phil Singer.
encouraged by the support Mayor Giuliani continues to
receive across the Republican Party,'' said Giuliani
spokeswoman Maria Comella.
The survey found
31% of Republicans know of Giuliani's abortion-rights
views. He is seen about equally favorably by Republicans who
are, and are not, aware of that.
Half in the poll
said the GOP is friendly toward religion while 30% said
the same about the Democrats. It also found that while 38%
said social issues like abortion will be very
important in deciding their vote for president, about
double that percentage said the same about the war in
Iraq and domestic issues like the economy.
John C. Green,
senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public
Life, said the poll showed a candidate's religion is ''not
always the most important factor, but one important
factor'' for voters.
The survey was
conducted by the Pew religion forum and the Pew Research
Center for the People and the Press. It involved telephone
interviews with 3,002 randomly chosen adults conducted
from August 1 to 18, and has a margin of sampling
error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. (AP)