From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
Not only will Romney give his speech on faith and Mormonism on Thursday, but the ex-governor is also trying to speak at South Carolina's only megachurch. According to Ron Carpenter, the head of Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, SC, Romney has been pressing hard to speak at the church, which has 13,000 members.
Carpenter told me that he is still thinking and praying on allowing Romney to speak at Redemption World. Obama spoke there recently, and there was a huge backlash from white Christians and Republicans for letting that "Muslim" speak, although Obama is a Christian.
But Carpenter is a huge fan of Obama, and says he's open to any candidate who would want to speak and make a testament to his "Christian" faith at the church. But at the same time, he hedged at the idea of letting other Dems come to the church.
Carpenter said that Republicans love coming there because redemption is the headquarters for a church network that includes several hundred churches and millions of members. Carpenter has never endorsed because he says he's looking for that candidate who could have a social agenda that cares about the plight of the inner cities and can connect with his mixed race congregation and have socially conservative values.
I asked him if he had ever heard of Mike Huckabee and he said he really hadn't...
First Read contacted the Romney campaign about Carpenter's assertion that Romney wants to speak at his church, but his campaign hasn't yet responded. *** UPDATE *** A Romney spokeswoman emails us, "To our knowledge, no one directly involved with the governor's scheduling has had discussions with the Redemption World Outreach Center about the Governor speaking there."
*** UPDATE II *** The Romney spokeswoman, in a follow-up email, stresses again that the campaign hasn't contacted Carpenter, and that Romney has no plans to visit his church.