He has had one marriage, five kids, no hint of personal or financial scandal, a position of responsibility in his church, and he doesn’t drink, smoke or chew. By some standards, Republican Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and Christian conservative voters in Iowa are right on the same page.

But no candidate has had a harder slog with the evangelical Christians who make up the majority of Iowa caucusgoers. In 2008, they rejected Romney, who had campaigned heavily in the state, in favor of fellow-evangelical Mike Huckabee. This year, Iowa Republicans have again embraced anyone and everyone but Romney.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, have all taken their turn atop Iowa opinion polls, but Romney has led in only five polls out of 35 since July. That includes a CNN poll released Wednesday that shows Romney leading Paul.

Despite the urgency of economic issues in national presidential politics, the religious faith of candidates has been central to the Republican battle in the Iowa caucuses. In 2008, evangelical Christians made up 60% of Iowa caucusgoers, according to surveys taken on caucus night by ABC News, and they supported Huckabee, a Baptist minister, over Romney, 46% to 19%.

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