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Florida Religious and Social Conservatives Rally Behind Mitt Romney

November 13, 2011 - 6:00pm

The campaign behind Republican presidential hopeful former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts unveiled its team to reach out to social and religious conservatives in the Sunshine State on Monday.

While Romney has take socially liberal positions in the past -- notably during his two statewide bids for elected office in Massachusetts in 1994 and 2002 -- his supporters insist he now stands with social conservatives against abortion and in favor of the role of religion in the public square.

I am honored by the support of these important Florida leaders, Romney said in a statement. Like them, I believe that America is great because of the faith of our founders and the strength of our families, and we must do everything that we can to preserve both.

The effort will be led by former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon. He will be assisted by four state co-chairmen and women: state Sen. Anitere Flories, R-Miami; state Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville; former state Sen. Pat Neal, who had led the board of the Christian Coalition of Florida; and First Coast conservative activist Nancy McGowan.

Mitt Romney is pro-life and is a true conservative on issues of family and faith, said Neal in a statement released on Monday. The members of this committee are tired of the liberal policies of the Obama administration and are confident that Governor Romney will stand up for the values that have made our country strong and will appoint judges that respect the Constitution and the rule of law.

The Romney team also gained the backing of a number of prominent Florida conservatives, including Reg Buxton, publisher of the Naples Journal and the North Naples Journal; former congressional candidate and Christian Family Coalition activist Marili Cancio; educator John Giotis; Adam Goldman, formerly with Florida Right-to-Life and now on the board of advisers of the conservative James Madison Institute; Margi Helschien, vice chairwomanof the Palm Beach County Republican Party and president of the Boca Raton Republican Club; Kissimmee Vice Mayor Art Otero; Marion County Commissioner Stan McClain; Leslie Steele, who handled communications for former Gov. Jeb Bush; attorney Patricia Strowbridge; and Don Mullins who served as an aide to House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.

The Romney team also includes a number of prominent religious conservative leaders, including Rodney Akers who is the immediate past president of the Florida Conference of United Methodist Men; Pastor Derek Janney and Rev. John-Erik Moseler of Orlando Baptist Church; First Coast businessman and Catholic activist Joseph Helow; pro-life activist Mac McGehee, vice president of Mac Papers; and Miami-Dade activist Warren Lutz, who has led efforts against gambling and for legally preserving traditional marriage.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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