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Romney meets with evangelist Billy Graham
Billy Graham has counseled presidents going back to Harry Truman.
October 11th, 2012
04:44 PM ET

Romney meets with evangelist Billy Graham

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met with evangelical icon Billy Graham for the first time on Thursday at the evangelist’s remote mountaintop home in North Carolina.

Romney traveled to Graham’s residence in Montreat, just outside Asheville, to meet with Graham and his son Franklin Graham, a high-profile pastor in his own right.

Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka told reporters that Romney met with the Grahams for approximately 30 minutes and that they discussed religious freedom, religious persecution and growth of the Grahams’ ministry in China, Sudan and North Korea.

Towards the end of the meeting, according to Gorka, Billy Graham led a prayer for the Romneys, saying "I'll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that."

"What impresses me even more than Governor Romney's successful career are his values and strong moral convictions. I appreciate his faithful commitment to his impressive family, particularly his wife Ann of 43 years and his five married sons," Billy Graham said in a statement through a spokesman following the meeting.

"It was a privilege to pray with Governor Romney—for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms," the evangelist's statement continued.

Graham, 93, has provided counsel to generations of U.S. presidents beginning with Harry S. Truman, and is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Staging revivals that he called “crusades” around the world, Graham has reached untold millions of people in person with his message.

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In the United States, his power and reach have transcended partisan politics. He has counseled presidents from both parties and met with President Barack Obama in 2010. Graham was hospitalized for treatment of a pulmonary infection earlier this year.

Romney first met with Franklin Graham, founder of the aid group Samaritan’s Purse, in 2007, when the Mormon White House hopeful was getting know many national evangelical leaders for the first time.

The elder Graham began his missionary work in 1944 when he started speaking at rallies for the Youth for Christ Campus Life ministry. Five years later, Graham was holding crusades in tents in downtown Los Angeles.

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Originally scheduled for three weeks, the crusades drew so many followers they were extended to seven.

His "last crusade" in June 2005 drew 230,000 people.

More recently, Billy Graham has weighed in on hot-button issues, including supporting North Carolina's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which voters passed earlier this year. This summer, Graham defended the president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain for his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Graham has been in and out of local hospitals this year, battling respiratory issues. The pool reporter following Romney added in their report from the meeting, "Billy Graham's voice sounded somewhat weak but he did not look any more frail than his age would suggest."

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (518 Responses)
  1. Linda

    Romney's really reaching isn't he? Next he will have to shake hands in a nursing home, visit a hospital for crippled children, take some of his wife's Welsh cakes to some firemen and policemen and helping an old lady across the street. So phony just to try to get votes. He's a shallow individual who will be confused if or when he gets to the White House as President. Someone will constantly have to remind him of what he said.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Pee PeeOnMyFace

      I live in NC and all the counties other than Wake and Mecklenburg will eat that bs up.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Massachusetts Resident

      Romney will do just about anything and say just about anything to get what he wants. He did it here and he'll do it elsewhere! He's a psychopathic liar, a cheat, and a thief.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  2. Steve

    Didn't that guy pass away 5 years ago? Seriously!

    October 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Pee PeeOnMyFace`

      Just like the Lord, he has risen again. It's the second coming.

      Just kidding, I think that's his wife.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  3. Hansen

    Wow Romney met Billy Graham. What is the significance of this? Billy Graham is a outdated old fool who no one should listen to. Listen to this headline " Obama meets with delusional man in nursing home". Same difference.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Josh Wight

      I'm voting for President Obama Mr. Hansen, but let me tell you Billy Graham's message will never be outdated. He is a highly respected man throughout the world.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • free

      shame on you, shame on you, shame on you. may you reap the fruit of your own lips. no wonder america sinks.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • End Religion

      Josh, I believe you're correct that Billy Graham's message will never die - "Send me your money."

      October 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  4. Randall

    It is so disheartening to read these messages. Has no one respect for the Godly anymore. How about just having the dignity to respect people in general, to speak in a manner that is uplifting – rather than cutting, to encourage rather than condemn. Have any of you ever reached out to the millions as Billy Graham has? Do you feed the poor? Heal the sick? Cloth the naked? What act of self-denial for the sake of improving others well being have you engaged in? Are you all so self-righteous that you condemn others so freely without regard for the judgement that you yourselves will face someday. Have you never heard that "as you sow, so shall you reap"?

    If this comment chain represents the best of America, may God have mercy on America.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Daveq

      The only thing Graham has spread, is poison.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • stormchaser1983

      randall, a bunch of baloney.....ii ve seen these evangelicals work first hand in poor countries...its basically bribing people into saying 'i love jesus' and get basic necessities in return...

      October 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Hansen

      Billy Graham healed the sick?! I didnt know he was a doctor! To think he can preach and deceive people full time and practice medicine... That's a feat. I agree with your statement about respecting religious leaders. The problem with Billy is that he isn't one of them. He's a con man.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • End Religion

      @randall: "Has no one respect for the Godly anymore."

      Talking to imaginary beings garners one less respect, not more.

      ***
      "Have any of you ever reached out to the millions as Billy Graham has? Do you feed the poor? Cloth the naked?"

      My taxes and donations reach out to millions, feed the poor and cloth the naked.

      ***
      "Heal the sick?"

      I doubt Billy Graham healed a single human.

      ***
      "What act of self-denial for the sake of improving others well being have you engaged in?"

      Let's keep this focused on Graham. He has taken millions FROM people, not given. His industry stays in business by TAKING, not giving.

      ***
      "...without regard for the judgement that you yourselves will face someday"

      I will face no unearthly judgement, ever.

      ***
      "Have you never heard that "as you sow, so shall you reap"?"

      Have you never heard that "the emperor wears no clothes"?

      October 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • jmb2fly

      Randall, your addressing in a place where the serpent has many mouths speaking for him...........

      October 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  5. realitybites

    Looks like a cut scene from Poltergeist.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  6. lamb of dog

    You can just see the hate in that old mans eyes. Billy is looking at Romney like he's a peasant.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  7. aaron

    Middle-aged cultist religious fanatic....meet old Christian religious fanatic.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  8. lamb of dog

    How disturbing is this picture. Romney meeting his new overlord.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  9. imvotingforobama

    I wonder if Graham asked him why the Book of Mormom goes against the Christians Bible?

    October 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • meddleone

      A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect.

      There are some features common to most cults:

      • They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They add their "special revelations" to the Bible and view them as equally authoritative.

      • They do not accept that our relationship to Jesus Christ is a reality "by grace through faith" alone, but promote instead a salvation by works.

      • They do not give Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, full recognition as the second Person of the Trinity, composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

      Some of these groups are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others

      October 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • meddleone

      A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect.

      There are some features common to most cults:

      • They do not adhere solely to the sixty-six books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. They add their "special revelations" to the Bible and view them as equally authoritative.

      • They do not accept that our relationship to Jesus Christ is a reality "by grace through faith" alone, but promote instead a salvation by works.

      • They do not give Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, full recognition as the second Person of the Trinity, composed of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

      Some of these groups are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others
      -Billy Graham

      October 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • pat carr

      those are NOT definitions of a cult. They're just made up reasons by christians. in reality christianity IS a cult itself.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Don

      @Meddleone James 2:14-26, Luke 6:44

      October 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Daveq

      Meddleone, your very own "christianity" started out as a cult. The only difference between a cult and an established religion, is the number of gullible fools who buy into it.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • End Religion

      There is very little distinction between cult and religion. Generally, a cult worships a person as a god, whereas a religion worships a supernatural god. However it is then argued from one belief to another why one's brand of belief is not a cult. As it is used today, generally, 'cult' is used to disparage while 'religion' is applied out of consideration. But it is all the same fraud.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  10. Bill

    Billy likes Mormanism.... Wow

    October 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's MormOnism.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • jeffreyw75

      Billy likes power, fame, wealth, and his own personal agenda, and Romney is a place for him to step on, much more so than Obama.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      I have a feeling Billy loves More-Man-ism
      Giggity!

      October 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  11. End Religion

    hopefully security was prepared to keep Romney from being molested. At Billy's age, nearly everyone looks like a succulent 7 year old boy.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • WrshipWarior

      Wow! How disrespectful is that? Please don't confuse someone who was God's Evangelist for a season with a bunch of perverts. Billy Graham is one of the few proclaiming Christians who has a clean track record. He should be honored for his life of integrity not degraded to the company of depraved individuals who claim to be Christian.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • End Religion

      @randall: "Please don't confuse someone who was God's Evangelist"

      If he talked to imaginary people then he was already confused. I couldn't possibly confuse him more.

      ***
      "Billy Graham is one of the few proclaiming Christians who has a clean track record. He should be honored for his life of integrity not degraded to the company of depraved individuals who claim to be Christian."

      Very few humans get through this rat maze deserving of praise for their integrity. Certainly not a delusional charlatan who practiced fraud on the entire planet.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  12. Suspect

    I find it very hard to believe that the 94 year-old Billy Graham has much of a clue about Romney's record or character. It's nice they prayed together, beyond that I doubt this means a damn thing for independents, the votes that actually matter.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Suspect

      93 ... sorry.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Suspect

      P.S. I'm from that blue state where Romney used to be governor. Notice that Romney has no chance of winning our state? Everyone I know here hates the guy. Interesting.... guess that's what that "stellar" record gets ya.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  13. JM

    21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

    23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    (But apparently greed in 2012 is okay, according to the far right...and not helping the poor is their new twist on Jesus' teaching to sell everything and give it to the poor.)

    October 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  14. Humanity4All

    They both have accounts in swiss bank. Some common ground there.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  15. Don Jones

    Did the Mittster show Billy his magic underpants?

    October 11, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  16. marv

    I don't understand how believing christians stand up for what God calls wrong, God says in the bible that no one should add to His word or to take out of His word. The mormon religion believe in two Jesus, the true Jesus and the one that they claim walked in America, if this is not adding to God word, then what is. The devil comes like an angel of light. So christians be watchful, because Jesus said even the even the very elect will be deceived.

    October 11, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      marv, you didn't get the memo? Religion is a fraud.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • NoTags

      If Christians took the time to study a little, and understand what the LDS church believes and teaches there is no way they would vote for Romney.

      October 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  17. ImWEBSPY

    Red Ryan even the makeup couldn't hide the sheen

    October 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  18. End Religion

    Why is Romney running for President with Alfred E. Newman as running mate?

    October 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  19. JM

    Romney and Ryan lie like the devil and Billy Graham is supporting them?

    What is going on in this world?

    Obama shows love towards others (Jesus' command). Romney/Ryan seem to care for no one but themselves and their wealthy cronies.

    Insane...

    October 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • NoTags

      In the past few years Billy Graham has accepted the 'new age religion' philosophy that all roads lead to heaven no matter if you are Christian, Muslim, LDS, Jewish, etc. There are a couple of videos on YouTube of him discussing this with Robert Schuller.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And I have far more respect for such a view than I do for the imbeciles who insist that Christianity of their specific trademark is the only *true* path.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • JM

      Obama is a Christian but it seems like the right are trying to slam the door of heaven in the face of anyone who they don't like.

      As if that's their call...

      31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

      34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

      37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

      40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

      41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

      45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

      October 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • JM

      Who are feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, welcoming others? Democrats.

      Who mock the poor, etc? Republicans (or, at least, the extreme right who admire people like Romney/Ryan who heap up wealth for themselves, could care less for the less fortunate and lie glibly).

      October 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  20. lol

    I'm surprised Billy didn't burst into flames when he touched the forked tongued and tailed Romney as they shook hands......Must be Ryan that is the anti-christ .

    October 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.