The Republican establishment appears to be pulling out all the stops in advocating Mitt Romney’s candidacy, going so far as to suggest an element of religious bigotry is behind Romney’s second place showing in South Carolina.
“We haven’t had time to do a real analysis of the Romney race in South Carolina, but once we break that down, there was some element of anti-Mormonism in that vote,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), according to a Jan 28 article at Real Clear Politics.
“I’m not saying all of it, but there were elements there. There was nothing that Mitt Romney could have done,” he told Real Clear Politics in an interview after a town hall meeting with about 100 seniors at The Villages, FL.
The Arizona Senator added that he did not think those feelings would carry over into other primaries.
Erin McPike wrote:
Could that bias, if it exists, extend beyond the Palmetto State to others in the South if the primary drags on? “I’m not sure [but] I don’t think so,” McCain said, pointing to Georgia as one place he doesn’t believe would hold Romney’s religion against him.
McCain cited the possible anti-Mormonism in response to a query about the growing Tea Party support Gingrich has begun to draw, particularly in Florida.
McCain, along with other elected Republicans including Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, have endorsed Romney for the GOP nomination.
While it is true that some evangelical Christians are not comfortable voting for a Mormon, it is very disturbing to hear an elected leader of McCain’s stature publicly engage in what Sarah Palin referred to as “Alinsky tactics” being used against fellow Republicans.
Dennis Prager noted at Townhall:
As an American, a Republican, and a fiscal and social conservative — and though I have endorsed no Republican candidate — there is one thing that would disturb me greatly if Mitt Romney were not the Republican nominee: if Romney’s Mormon faith were a factor in his defeat.
Many evangelical leaders have said that if Romney is the Republican presidential candidate, they would not vote for him in the general election. What is implied — and sometimes explicitly stated — is that his Mormonism prevents them from voting for him in the primaries.
Most evangelicals label Mormonism a cult, and many accuse Mormons of being dishonest for calling themselves Christians.
But the question now is: How will voters respond to these type of attacks coming from prominent Republicans like McCain?
Is it really about religion, or is it about Romney’s position on issues?
An article at the Lubbuck Avalanche-Journal summed up two polls from 2011:
A nationwide Gallup poll in June showed 22 percent of more than 1,000 people surveyed said they would not vote for a Mormon for president. About 20 percent of Republicans and independents said they would not vote for a Mormon, while 27 percent of Democrats reported that sentiment.
A Quinnipiac poll from the same month showed 36 percent of respondents were either somewhat uncomfortable or entirely uncomfortable with a Mormon presidential candidate. About 60 percent reported they would be entirely or somewhat comfortable with a Mormon candidate.
In that poll, which asked people to rate their comfort level with candidates based on the candidate’s religious beliefs, prospective Muslim and atheist candidates were least valued, with 59 percent and 50 percent of respondents reporting they’d be uncomfortable with a candidate with those beliefs, respectively.
Respondents seemed most comfortable with Catholic, Jewish and evangelical Christian candidates, with 83, 80 and 67 percent reporting they’d feel comfortable with a candidate of those faiths, respectively.
The article noted, however, that – at least in Lubbuck, TX – Romney’s Mormon faith is not that much of an issue:
“I’d be hard-pressed to imagine many Americans wouldn’t vote for the governor because he’s a Mormon,” said Texas Tech political science professor Craig Goodman, who added Romney certainly hasn’t clinched the Republican nomination, especially considering Saturday’s results.
“Is Mitt Romney not their ideal candidate? Maybe, but at the end of the day Republicans are going to support him in a general election.”
Of course, it is ludicrous to think that Romney will install a hotline to Salt Lake City in order to confer with religious leaders on national issues, just as it was ludicrous to think that JFK would confer with the Vatican.
It doesn’t help matters any to hear some claim that Romney would actually put the LDS church ahead of the national government, as did Tricia Erickson, a former Mormon and author of Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters: The Mormon Church versus the Office of The Presidency of The United States of America, according to a post at Right Wing Watch:
Schneider: Are you suggesting Tricia that if Mitt Romney is elected President of the United States that there is an allegiance to the Mormon Church that would supersede his oath to the United States or the Constitution of the United States?
Erickson: Absolutely…. As president of the United States, Mitt would have less authority than that of the living prophet of the Mormon Church, he is therefore no matter his position as leader of our nation subject to the prophet and to his orders and to his mandates, even if those mandates go against our nation.
Christians can and should debate among themselves what role Romney’s faith has in their vote, but elected GOP leaders like McCain should know better than to accuse fellow Republicans of any type of bigotry. After all, that’s what the left does – and those type of attacks should stay there.
Instead, they should focus on issues, and explain why the country should vote for Romney.
More on Mitt Romney at modenook.com here .
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