MONTREAT, North Carolina — US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney met with Reverend Billy Graham on Thursday and asked the world-renowned evangelist to pray for him in the final weeks of the campaign.
“I’ll do all I can to help you,” said Graham, 93.
The Christian leader and his son Franklin Graham met with the Republican nominee for 30 minutes on the Graham estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, North Carolina, where Romney held a campaign rally later in the day.
Appearing side by side with Graham could provide a major boost for Romney as he courts religious conservatives including Christian evangelicals, who he needs to turn out in large numbers on November 6 in order to win the election against President Barack Obama.
The meeting was closed to reporters, but photographers and video producers were brought in near the end, when the men appeared to be discussing the candidate’s father George Romney, whom Graham considered a friend, the campaign said in a readout of the meeting.
When Graham asked what he could do for Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts said: “Prayer is the most helpful thing you can do for me,” according to a transcript of that part of the meeting provided by NBC News.
Near the end of the meeting, Graham led a prayer for the Romneys, saying “I’ll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that,” according to the readout provided by a campaign aide.
Romney and the Grahams also discussed religious freedom, religious persecution, Afghanistan, and growth of the Grahams’ ministry in China, Sudan and North Korea.
Billy Graham is among the most popular preachers in the world, and his mass gatherings and televised sermons played a major role in reviving the US evangelical movement.
He has been invited to the White House by every president since Harry Truman, and former president George W. Bush attributed his decision to stop drinking at the age of 40 to a discussion with Graham.
Graham rose to acclaim abroad after two widely publicized visits to North Korea in 1992 and 1994.