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Romney faults administration for mistakes in Iraq

Story Highlights

• GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney strongly criticizes execution of Iraq war
• Romney faults prewar planning, saying "downsides and risks" not considered
• Mormon candidate calls polygamy "awful" in "60 Minutes" interview
From Mary Snow
CNN New York
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tries to distinguish himself from his Republican rivals in the race for president, he's also distancing himself from President Bush.

On the topic of Iraq, Romney gave perhaps his strongest criticism yet of the administration in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes."

"I think the administration made a number of errors," he told interviewer Mike Wallace. But, he said, Bush isn't solely to blame.

"Well, he's the person where the buck stops," Romney said, "but it goes to the secretary of defense and the planning agencies, the Department of State -- it's the whole administration."

He wouldn't use Wallace's term -- that the administration "screwed up" -- but he said that mistakes were made.

"And we're paying for those mistakes," he added.

Asked what those mistakes were, Romney said, "I don't think we were adequately prepared for what occurred. I don't think we had done enough planning. I don't think we considered the various downsides and risks."

Mormon candidate calls polygamy 'awful'

Romney also answered questions about his religion on "60 Minutes," including one of the most often-asked questions about Mormons -- regarding the practice of polygamy, which was outlawed in the late 1800s. (Watch how Romney's sons answer questions about being Mormon Video)

"I have a great-great grandfather," he said. "They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert, and so he took additional wives, as he was told to. And I must admit I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy."

When asked, Romney said he did not break the Mormon church's strict rules against premarital sex.

"What's at the heart of my faith is a belief that there is a creator," he said, "that we're all children of the same God, and then fundamentally, the relationship you have with your spouse is important and eternal."

Those who study religion and politics say they expect Romney's religion will factor in his campaign, but not overtly.

"The fact that his Mormonism is out there is going to be manifest more in the whispered conversations and that sort of thing, rather than overt speeches and comments made during a debate," said David Campbell, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame.

A case in point: Ahead of next week's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, some in the state have received an eight-page criticism of the Mormon religion from an anonymous sender, questioning whether it's politically dangerous and referring to Mormon texts as hoaxes.

The whispers could get louder, however, and that may move the Romney campaign to address the matter head on.

"There's been a lot of talk about whether or not he needs to give a speech like John Kennedy did in 1960 in which he says, 'I don't speak for the church, and the church doesn't speak for me,' " said Scott Helman, a Boston Globe reporter who has covered Romney for years. "At this point, his advisers feel he doesn't have to do that. But the more his religion is in the headlines, I think the more they have to consider it."

Kennedy was the United States' first Catholic president.

In a "60 Minutes" interview, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney faults the Bush administration for mistakes made in the execution of the Iraq war.



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