“Mormon question” may again dog Mitt Romney’s U.S. presidential bid

By Reuters Staff
June 10, 2011

(U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks to supporters in Detroit, Michigan June 9, 2011/Rebecca Cook)

Republican Mitt Romney has remade himself in a second run for U.S. president, with a leaner campaign apparatus and a message focused with laser-like precision on the nation’s economic problems. But the “Mormon question” still remains for the former Massachusetts governor: are Americans ready to put a Mormon in the White House?

Surveys suggest American voters are more accepting of the idea now than when Romney staged his first presidential run in 2008. But at the margins, many remain suspicious of Mormons. A Quinnipiac University poll this week found voters less comfortable with the idea of a Mormon president than having a leader of any religion other than a Muslim, or an atheist.

“The fact that less than half of voters have a favorable view of the religion is likely to be a political issue that Governor Romney … will have to deal with,” said Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Connecticut.

Romney has closer ties to Mormonism than other Mormons in U.S. politics, such as Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Jon Huntsman, his possible Republican rival for the party’s presidential nomination. A fifth-generation member of the faith whose forebears were involved in the religion from the mid-1850s, Romney is a former lay bishop of Massachusetts’ temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But Romney, whose campaign message on jobs is gaining some traction with voters, is making an attempt to avoid being defined by religion. “I separate quite distinctly matters of personal faith from the leadership one has in a political sense,” the Republican said in an interview on CNN this week. “You don’t begin to apply the doctrines of a religion to responsibility for guiding a nation or guiding a state.”

Read the full story by Ros Krasny here.

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9 comments

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When you ask a question, you force people to make an artificial decision not related to their priorities. “How likely are you to vote for a candidate who wears purple socks?” Purple socks? Hmmm…. I never thought about it, but they want me to come up with some answer. I guess that would be weird. Okay, so I’ll say I’m less likely to vote for a candidate with purple socks. They keep asking and asking and harping on Romney’s religion, twisting people’s arms into making a judgement based on something that is not relevant. The media are going out of their way to make religion an issue when it is not. Where’s the survey asking how many Americans are comfortable with President Obama’s religion? Hillary Clinton’s religion? VP Joe Biden’s Religion? Senate leader Harry Reid’s Religion? (Reid’s a Mormon too). Where are the surveys that ask “What matters to you most about a candidate, their politics, their experience, their hair, their socks, or their religion?” The more the media focus on Mitt Romney’s religion, the more it seems they are trying to get people to focus on his religion, declare it “weird”, or convince voters that he can’t win due to his religion. Why? Because the liberal-leaning media would love to have some nut be the conservative candidate, instead of Mitt Romney. Because they know Romney could actually win.

Posted by sam38 | Report as abusive

“I separate quite distinctly matters of personal faith from the leadership one has in a political sense,” the Republican said in an interview on CNN this week. “You don’t begin to apply the doctrines of a religion to responsibility for guiding a nation or guiding a state.”

Can you imagine the Republican base voting for someone who says this? The conservative right would expect their candidate to say the opposite…but then maybe they would only vote for a Christian (which Mormons aren’t) in any case, and Romney isn’t counting on them at all.

Posted by rsgracey | Report as abusive

Mitt was a stake president and bishop of the Mormon Church. That would be like a Catholic Arch Bishop and also a priest over a parish.

Posted by JoeKK | Report as abusive

There is an inaccuracy in reporting here. There is no such thing as a Mormon Bishop of an LDS temple. An LDS Temple has a President, not a Bishop. Mr. Romney was a Bishop of his local congregation, and a President of a collection of local congregations later.

Posted by JackSevarg | Report as abusive

Sam38, let’s get away from the usual media bashing and consider a few facts. Many evangelicals say they don’t believe Mormons are Christians and they may not vote for him for that reason. That’s very important in the Republican Party with its strong evangelical voter base. This is an angle that very few people in the media would have even thought of because few would have known that much about the relations between evangelicals and Mormons. So it’s highly unlikely the media started all this. And your comparison to Obama’s religion or Clinton’s religion isn’t that good a comparison. Neither of their faith choices causes a similar problem with the Democratic base. If you don’t think this is an issue, just go to some evangelical blogs and look at how they’ve been talking about Romney and Mormonism.

We now have all of the proof we need that a Romney White House would be a Salt Lake City White House. Following Romney’s declaration earlier this week that questions about his religion should be directed to his church’s leadership in Salt Lake City, we now have their first policy declaration for the Romney campaign, and it’s about immigration!

Romney is a Mormon puppet. He will always follow the policies of his church, and defer to their broad and sweeping counsel.

Read the Mormon church press release here. More to follow, for sure:

http://newsroom.lds.org/article/immigrat ion-church-issues-new-statement

So, Mitt, here is your position on immigration in case you weren’t sure what it should be!

Posted by sfcanative | Report as abusive

@ sfcanative,

I hope people actually read this very reasonable statement instead of taking your word that it constitutes “proof that a Romney White House would be a Salt Lake City White House.”
http://newsroom.lds.org/article/immigrat ion-church-issues-new-statement

The strongest word I found was “supports.” I think anyone would be hard pressed to say that this statement does not take into account the concerns of all who are effected by this issue. There is no legislation proposed, but only some general suggestions, including:

- The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship.

- In furtherance of needed immigration reform in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its reverence for family, and its commitment to law.

The Church also posts its official policy on political neutrality at the same site. Please read!
http://newsroom.lds.org/official-stateme nt/political-neutrality

Excerpt:
- Relationships with Government
- Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.

Sorry, no Mormon conspiracy here.

Tracy Hall Jr
hthalljr’gmail’com

Posted by hthalljr | Report as abusive

It is glaringly obvious that the author of this article is quite ignorant of the Mormon faith. Ros, if you are going to write about any subject, it would be prudent for you to get accurate information for the original source. That way, you will not embarrass yourself again.

The left wing media knows that Mitt can beat BHO in 2012. This is why they focus ad nauseum on Mitt’s religion.

The real issues, the pressing issues, are restoring jobs and the economy. Mitt has the exact skill set and experience in the private sector to turn our economy, jobs, and the lives of millions of hurting Americans around.

It is pathetic that the media is focusing on this non issue, trying to make it an issue, instead of the pressing immediate needs that real people are facing all across this land.

Posted by saltnpepper | Report as abusive

Tom, What you say is true that most evangelicals believe that Mormons are not Christian. This is more than a little puzzling because Mormons do believe in, follow the teachings of, and deeply worship Christ. If that is not Christian, then WHAT IS???
It is apparent that some evangelical pastors got together and made up their own definition of Christianity. It is in their own pastoral and financial interest to eliminate Mormonism from their own arrogant, narrow view of the teachings of Christ. For them to preach this misinformation is no less than spreading hate and bigotry. What is Christian about that?

Posted by saltnpepper | Report as abusive