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