The latest issue of National Review sports a grinning, full-body shot of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on its cover with the words “Matinee Mitt” scrawled across the photo. The article introduces NRODT readers to Governor Romney as a serious presidential contender for the GOP in 2008. We are treated to a description of Romney’s stellar, social conservative credentials, notwithstanding what some might consider his “questionable” comments or positions on abortion and stem-cell research. As the author, John J. Miller, puts it, “a good case can be made that Romney has fought harder for social conservatives than any other governor in America, and it is difficult to imagine his doing so in a more daunting political environment [i.e., Massachusetts].”
Of particular interest to me was the author’s take on how Romney’s Mormonism would likely affect his chances of success in winning the nomination. After a couple of passing references to the pre-1978 Priesthood Ban and “Mormonism’s doctrinal oddities, such as its claims about extra-Biblical revelation,” we read:
“There’s no telling how this will play out, though one expert on evangelical politics suspects that it might amount to little. “I think evangelicals will put aside theological differences if they believe someone’s on the right side of the culture war,” says Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Voters will care more about what a candidate believes about gay marriage.”“
I must admit that I haven’t followed Romney’s career with particular interest (I’d rather watch paint dry than watch the Olympics), so I don’t have a strong opinion of the man one way or another. But I do have some questions for you all:
- Do you think that Mr. Cromartie is correct? Given that evangelical Christians comprise such a large and powerful fraction of the GOP’s base, is it likely the base will be able to stomach a Mormon as “their” presidential candidate, even assuming his conservative bona fides? Even if various historical and theological issues don’t prove fatal to the national appeal of a Mormon candidate, might perceptions (whether real or imagined) of Mormon allegiance to Salt Lake prove insurmountable in gaining the support of the electorate? What do you think?
- For those LDS readers who are generally sympathetic to Republican politics, does the possibility of a serious run at the White House by a promising Mormon candidate make you highly likely to support him over other GOP contenders, regardless of any differences between his and your particular political philosophies and/or public policy stands, or would you be likely to evaluate Romney just as you would any other Republican contender (whether Mormon or non-Mormon) and give your support accordingly?
- For those LDS readers NOT generally sympathetic to Romney’s politics, would the fact that Romney is LDS tend to endear you to him as a candidate, regardless of your political differences, or would it likely cause you to loathe his candidacy even more (given that it might solidify public stereotypes of Mormons as having certain political sympathies that you don’t happen to share)?