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Mitt Romney's Mormon religion: Is it a political problem?

Mitt Romney says as president he would not be swayed by his church. But a significant number of voters – especially evangelical Protestants – say they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington Friday June 3. Republican White House hopefuls courted Christian conservative voters at the conference where US economic concerns shared the stage with social issues that dominate the evangelical agenda.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

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Mitt Romney – the presumed front-runner in the Republican contest to select a presidential challenger – is a well-known figure in American politics.

He’s been a governor, a businessman, and the guy who rescued the 2002 Winter Olympic Games from mismanagement. That’s the good news for Romney.

But the fact that he’s a well-known figure in American politics is also his major challenge.

Election 101: Nine facts about Mitt Romney and his White House bid

He has a record that he must either defend or try to move away from without appearing to flip-flop on such issues as abortion, gay rights, gun control, climate change, and government health care policy – issues on which he’s held relatively moderate positions in the past.

He’s “establishment” at a time when that’s a pejorative for a tea party movement more interested in the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, and the Pauls (Ron and Rand).

And then there’s his religion, which remains a cause for pause among millions of potential voters, especially the white evangelical Christians prominent among primary and caucus voters.

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