CULPEPER, Va. — D.J. Moberley, a 30-year-old evangelical Christian, seems an unlikely cog in the effort to elect Mitt Romney as president. He has no ties to the campaign, has been skeptical of the candidate’s Mormon faith, and says, “Mitt Romney is not someone I would have picked, that’s for sure.”
Nonetheless, the real estate appraiser spends hours chatting with his 900 Facebook friends and talking with fellow church members about Romney, all part of his effort to convince evangelicals who have qualms about Mormonism that they should support the former Massachusetts governor. Many other evangelicals are making similar efforts across the country.
Therein lies one of the more unlikely stories of this year’s presidential campaign: evangelicals, some of whom played a role in Romney’s defeat in 2008, and nearly upset his effort in 2012, are now a vital part of Romney’s hope to win in Virginia and several other swing states where evangelicals are a major constituency.
“Romney is counting on evangelicals. The irony is that this is a shotgun marriage between two very different religions but they are completely dependent upon one another for victory,” said Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
Romney’s increasing reliance on evangelicals is on display across Virginia. Earlier this year, Romney spoke before 32,000 people in the evangelical heart of the state, Liberty University in Lynchburg. That appearance reverberated at evangelical churches across Virginia, including the one that Moberley attends.
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