Portion of Republican convention to focus on Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith

Chris Moody

A portion of the final night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., will highlight Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, campaign strategist Russ Schriefer said.

"As part of telling Gov. Romney's story, we will be having several people who he worked with through his church that he helped in different times of their lives," Schriefer told reporters during a conference call briefing Friday. "We'll have someone who followed Gov. Romney as a leader in the church. We'll talk about what it was like to fill Gov. Romney's shoes in that role."

Throughout his life, Romney has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in pastoral roles and spending two years as a missionary in France during his youth. During his presidential campaign, Romney has focused on his record as governor of Massachusetts and his private sector experience rather than his work in the church. In 2007, during his first campaign for president, Romney delivered a speech addressing his thoughts on the role of faith in public life.

The religious portion of the Thursday night lineup is part of a larger strategy to illustrate Romney's personal life, and will include testimonials from those who have known and worked with him. Republicans also plan to feature as many as 15 Olympic athletes on stage at the convention to highlight Romney's time as the CEO of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Three Olympians—1980 USA Olympic hockey team captain Michael Eruzione, 2012 gold medal skeet shooter Kimberly Rhode and 2002 gold medal speed skater Derrick Parra—will speak on Romney's behalf.

"The three of them will talk about different parts of Gov. Romney's Olympic experience," Schriefer said.

On Tuesday, Republicans plan to play a tribute video to retiring Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who campaigned against Romney for the presidency in 2008 and 2012. The video will feature testimonials from Paul's colleagues in the House of Representatives showcasing the libertarian-leaning Republican's career in politics.

"Congressman Paul's people came to us and said, We'd like to do a short tribute to him, and we said, 'Absolutely, it would be a good time to do that,'" Schriefer said. "We know that not everyone's going to agree with us all the time, but we know that as a Republican Party that we're going to unite and beat Barack Obama in November."