A new Mitt Romney ad released Thursday accuses President Barack Obama of waging a "war on religion." The ad, along with recent attacks on Obama's welfare policy, signals a move away from attacking the president's handling of the economy.
"President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith," says a narrator in the ad. "Mitt Romney believes that’s wrong."
Romney is referring to an Obama administration decision to mandate that religiously-affiliated employers -- but not religious institutions themselves -- cover the cost of contraception in their health care plans at no charge to the employee. The administration tweaked the mandate to allow employers with moral or ethical objections to request that the insurer cover the extra costs of the coverage.
Romney's invocation of a "war on religion" recalls an infamous Rick Perry ad that attacked Obama for the same, though on different culture-war grounds.
The latest ad then cuts to Romney praising Pope John Paul II, who helped end officially atheist communism in Poland. "[I]n 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire. 'Be not afraid,'" says Romney, speaking from a recent trip to Poland.
Drawing a comparison between what it portrays as the repressive Polish communist regime and a preventative health care mandate, the narrator says, "When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?"