DENVER -- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is Mormon, said Thursday that it's only a matter of time before Democrats begin attacking GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his religious beliefs.
"They're going to get frustrated and clutched -- and when I say they I mean the Obama people -- and before the end of this race they're going to be so clutched that they're going to start attacking Mitt Romney's religious feelings," he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference here. "And let me tell you something, get prepared for it."
Hatch brought up Mormonism a few times at the conference, to a loud cheer from one woman and applause from the rest of the crowd. He told a long joke about Mormonism to laughter from the crowd, and gave a preemptive defense of his religion.
"All we want to do is serve the wonderful teachings of Jesus Christ," Hatch said of Mormons.
So far, the Obama campaign hasn't touched Romney's religion. Romney was at first quiet about it, other than to talk about how his faith is central to his life. He has become more open, though, in recent months, allowing reporters to attend church with him and speaking more about Mormonism.
Republicans have attacked President Barack Obama for policies that require employers to provide birth control, which they consider an attack on religious freedom for institutions that oppose contraception. Hatch repeated that line, tying it to Mormonism specifically.
"I'm a member of the Mormon faith, and one of the best things Mitt Romney is going to do for us is" protecting religious freedom, he said.