(Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has revealed that the father of the likely Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, was born at a polygamy commune in Mexico.
The comment came in response to a question asked by a reporter from the Daily Beast who inquired about Romney's chances of winning over the Hispanic vote in electoral swing states. According to the Democratic governor, Romney will have a "tall order" in winning the Hispanic vote, despite the fact that his family "came from a polygamy commune in Mexico."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Romney is a member of, no longer approves of the polygamist lifestyle, a practice which used to be associated with the Mormon Church. During his campaign to win the GOP presidential nomination, the former Massachusetts governor has had to face questions about his faith from conservatives who have issues with Mormonism and consider it to be a cult.
Schweitzer, however, clarified that he is not claiming that Romney's family history proves that the candidate himself approves of polygamy. Romney has had only one wife, Ann Romney, whom he has been married to for over 40 years.
George Romney, the GOP candidate's father, was also in a monogamous marriage, but was born to American Mormons who had to flee to Mexico when the U.S. government ordered a crack down on the practice of polygamy in the early 20th century. The Daily Beast article revealed that at the time, Mexico was "the last bastion for the practice of plural marriage in the Church of Latter-day Saints." George Romney later returned to the U.S., and served as the governor of Michigan and was also a member of former President Richard Nixon's cabinet.
Polygamy is a hot topic that has been a source of confusion for American voters when it comes to its place in Mormonism. A survey in 2011 showed that the majority of respondents were confused and unsure of whether Mormons still actively practice polygamy, despite the Latter-day Saints church officially distancing itself from such a lifestyle. The survey, which included 1,000 adults, found that 46 percent of respondents answered either "definitely" or "probably yes" to the question "Do Mormons practice polygamy?"
President Barack Obama's campaign has distanced itself from engaging in religious discussion about a candidate's faith.
"Attacking a candidate's religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don't think others should either," Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith told the Daily Beast.