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Romney deflects religion questions

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was questioned Monday about his Mormon faith while campaigning here for today's Wisconsin primary.

A Ron Paul supporter, Bret Hatch, 28, asked Romney whether he agreed with a passage from the Book of Mormon that describes a cursing of people with a "skin of blackness." Romney's staff took away the microphone before the man could read the passage.

"I'm sorry, we're just not going to have a discussion about religion in my view, but if you have a question, I'll be happy to answer your question," Romney said.

Hatch then asked whether Romney thought it was a sin for interracial couples to have children.

"No. Next question," Romney responded.

Not long after Hatch's question, Romney reflected on the decade he spent as a volunteer Mormon pastor in the Boston area before becoming governor of Massachusetts.

"This gentleman wanted to talk about the doctrines of my religion. I'll talk about the practices of my faith," he said, noting that his service as a pastor helped him connect with people on "a very personal basis."

"Most Americans, by the way, are carrying a burden of some kind. We don't see it. We see someone on the street, they smile and say hello, but behind them they're carrying kind of a bag of rocks," Romney said. "I want to help people. I want to lighten that burden."

A fading Rick Santorum, also campaigning in Wisconsin, said Romney has essentially bought his success as GOP front-runner by outspending the competition.

Romney and his allies have spent a combined $53 million on television advertising in this election cycle, compared with $27 million from his three Republican competitors -- Santorum, Paul and Newt Gingrich -- combined, according to data from media tracker SMG Delta.

Santorum's team, having lost a string of close contests, has spent just $9 million.

Romney has a huge advantage in delegates. Monday, the Associated Press count had him with exactly half the delegates needed to win the nomination, 572, and twice as many delegates as Santorum.

Romney could substantially add to his lead today when 95 delegates will be at stake in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

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