S.C. portrayed as hurdle to Mormon Romney


NPR this morning portrayed Mitt Romney’s Mormonism as an obstacle to his candidacy, and presented South Carolina as just the sort of place where it would pose a problem.

The setup included the words, "Romney’s traveling to places where people aren’t entirely receptive to a Mormon president." We then find ourselves "at a Rotary Club luncheon in Aiken, South Carolina." In case you are not familiar with the Palmetto State, you are informed that "its voters include lots of fundamentalist Christians."

The segment describes the candidate’s speech, then acknowledges that "There wasn’t a single mention of religion until Romney faced reporters outside." You hear him being questioned on the subject by a reporter with an accent that definitely did not come out of South Carolina. The reporter, to his credit, asks whether this is only an obsession of the press. Romney responds that he does hear about it from regular folks — apparently, just not at the Rotary in Aiken.

Not to say the producers couldn’t persuade a South Carolinian to support their thesis. Rep. Gloria Haskins of Greenville obliged them by saying:

I think as an evangelical Christian, it is a big thing for me, yes, because again, his faith is
inconsistent with my faith. His faith is consistent with the Book of
Mormon. My faith is consistent with God’s Word, the Bible, and they’re
not compatible.

So did NPR set up South Carolina unfairly as a symbol of narrow-minded prejudice threatening an otherwise-viable candidacy? I don’t know.

Personally, I don’t think it’s narrow-minded or stupid or intolerant to consider whether a candidate shares your most fundamental beliefs regarding the way this whole thing called existence is set up. It’s infinitely more important than party label, much less whether Mr. Romney is a sufficiently pure "conservative" for the party’s right wing to stomach — the point that actually seems to be giving him more trouble than how he prays.

Where prejudice is a problem is when false and even absurd assumptions come into play — such as the widespread suspicion that JFK would be taking his marching orders as commander in chief from the Pope. (Something about the Pope just seems to freak out a lot of protestants. I used to be a protestant myself, but don’t ask me to explain it.)

I suspect that among most who vote in the GOP primary here, a more likely question will be: Why should I vote for this guy rather than John McCain? That’s who has gone the farthest in sewing up S.C. support at this point.

For some on the party’s ideological extreme, of course, almost anyone is preferable to the man from Arizona. He’s just too reasonable for them. But those hunting for their pure knight of conservatism seem unlikely to dub Mitt "I was for gay marriage before I was against it" Romney. (Fair or not, that’s the rep he’s having to live down.)

McCain’s still the man to beat, and that’s not a theological issue.


22 thoughts on “S.C. portrayed as hurdle to Mormon Romney

  1. Trajan

    What a perspective Rep. Haskins has… born in Bogota, Colombia, and schooled at Bob Jones.
    Wonder what she thinks of the multi-married McCain and Rudy?
    Mitt’s a good guy, a successful businessman, and seems to have the right priorities for America. He actually seems to be the closest thing to a statesman we have on the conservative side of the aisle. He’s absolutely going to shine in debates.
    People said the same things about JFK. Heck, I’m glad we’re actually talking about a leader who is proud of their religious background.
    Fortunately, SC’s primary is one of the first, but not the last.

  2. Ready to Hurl

    How many SC Rethuglican primary voters were talking about McCain’s “black love child” before Bush’s minions made it “an issue” in the 2000 primary?
    How many SC voters thought that McCain might be unbalanced due to his Vietnam captivity before Bush’s minions planted the question in voter’s minds?
    Mitt is a non-starter in SC.

  3. David Vilt

    Rep. Gloria Haskins says Mitt Romney’s faith “is inconsistent with my faith. His faith is consistent with the Book of Mormon. My faith is consistent with God’s Word, the Bible, and they’re not compatible.”
    As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of some years, I can assure Rep. Haskins that Mitt Romney’s faith is also consistent and compatible with the Bible, which is certainly followed by all Mormons as the Word of God (as is the Book of Mormon). Obviously, Rep. Haskins is not familiar with the Book of Mormon. If she were she would know that Book of Mormon (kind of the New World’s Testament of Jesus Christ) is even more Christ-centered than the Bible, and has no doctrinal conflict with the Bible. She should attend any LDS Church Sunday school class (unannounced if she likes) and she will find the teacher presenting a lesson on the New Testament of the Bible this year, Old Testament last year. If she also came to a Mormon worship service she would experience the Lord Jesus Christ being remembered in communion service, in prayers, and talks with members who hold Christ as their Savior and pattern for their lives of love and service to others of all faiths. She would not hear any put-down of another’s church or faith. Nor would she experience any political discussion. She would find a Christ-centered church that’s, perhaps, more like Christ’s New Testament Church than any she has experienced.

  4. Herb Brasher

    And Mike Leach, coach at Texas Tech, is also a Mormon. Doing a great job (I mean at football), especially considering the recruiting battle out in Texas.
    Sorry Brad, I know you don’t like football, but I couldn’t help it.

  5. Ed

    Well said Chris, it is exactly so. Especially if one holds a diverse (read:
    non-liberal) opinion about abortion, or ethnic quotas, or school choice or any other liberal cause. Ed

  6. Matt

    Good points. Correction though, Karl Rove is not a Mormon, although he attended college in Utah. The current Sec. of Health and Human Services in Bush’s Cabinet, Michael Leavitt, is though.

  7. John S. Maine

    I will vote for Mitt Romney based upon his strong family values and positive vision for Americas future. When we vote for a president it is for “Commander in Chief” not “Pastor in Chief”. Mitt Romney is in my opinion the most qualified leader and also happens to be a Latter Day Saint. Mitt Romney in 2008 we need a proven leader to guide America into an era of Safety and Prosperity.
    John S. Maine

  8. Ed

    I don’t think Romney is presidential timber. A successful governor to be sure, and he holds some popular conservative positions on certain hot-button issues, but he’s not our guy for 2008 I don’t think. I don’t yet see a clearly defined standout person to lead a conservative charge to the Whitehouse in ’08. I hope we get one, but I don’t see one yet. The good news is that I don’t see any Democrat candidates that can’t be soundly defeated if the right conservative comes along. Obama’s Islamic roots and empty-suit persona will do him in. You’ve never seen negatives like Hillary Clinton will bring to the table. Edwards is a complete joke. But we’ve still gotta find our guy, and Romney ain’t it. Ed

  9. Rod

    I disagree, I think Romney is exactly the guy that can do it. In my opinion, he is by far the smartest and most principled person in the race… It will be interesting to see how America responds to him after the debates.

  10. Ready to Hurl

    In case you don’t think that the “straight talking maverick” McCain will smear Mitt from Charleston to Greenville, check out his hires.
    From the NYT:
    In 2000, Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, said the advertisements run against him by George W. Bush, then the governor of Texas, distorted his record. But he has hired three members of the team that made those commercials — Mark McKinnon, Russell Schriefer and Stuart Stevens — to work on his presidential campaign.
    In 2004, Mr. McCain said the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisement asserting that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts had not properly earned his medals from the Vietnam War was “dishonest and dishonorable.” Nonetheless, he has hired the firm that made the spots, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, which worked on his 2000 campaign, to work for him again this year.
    In October, Mr. McCain’s top adviser expressed public displeasure with an advertisement against former Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., Democrat of Tennessee, that some saw as having racist overtones for suggesting a flirtation between Mr. Ford, who is black, and a young, bare-shouldered white woman, played by a blond actress.
    The Republican committee that sponsored the spot had as its leader Terry Nelson, a former Bush campaign strategist whom Mr. McCain hired as an adviser last spring. In December, just weeks after the Ford controversy broke, Mr. McCain elevated Mr. Nelson to the position of national campaign manager.
    Taken together, the moves provide the strongest indication yet that Mr. McCain intends to run a far tougher campaign than the one he ran in the 2000 primary. And they come as he transitions from being a onetime maverick to a candidate seeking to gather his party around him and create an air of inevitability about his prospects for winning nomination.
    As Mr. McCain assembles his team, he is also making it that much harder for his Republican challengers by scooping up a significant circle of the party’s top talent.
    In recent years, Mr. McCain has made a concerted effort to mend fences with Mr. Bush and reassure the Republican base that he is a reliable conservative. But his moves have focused new attention on the extent to which he may risk sacrificing the image he has long cultivated of being his own man, driven by principle rather than partisan politics.
    Mr. McCain’s advisers said he was not changing. But they were unapologetic about putting together a group dedicated to doing what it takes to reach the White House and employing lessons from his defeat at the hands of Mr. Bush in 2000.
    “This is about winning at the end of the day,” said John Weaver, Mr. McCain’s longtime senior strategist. “I don’t want to be in a knife fight ever again, but if I am, we’re going to win it.”
    St. McCain is out to win this one. And, he’s hired the Bush slimeball brigade to do it.
    Mitt won’t know what hit him. Polygamy, abortion advocate, Massachusetts liberal, “ain’t a Christian”…
    Just wait.

  11. Ed

    This thread started with Brads’ piece on Romneys’ religious beliefs. While I differ with Romney on religious matters, I would seriously consider voting for him to be president if I thought he were the right guy for the job. I don’t think he’s the right guy, our religious differences notwithstanding (see my earlier post). Nevertheless, I do absolutely believe that his religious beliefs are going to become a central issue in this campaign, much as religious beliefs did in 1960 during JFKs’ campaign. And John McCain is just the slimeball to see to it that they do. I detest McCain. He is a self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing old fart who cares nothing about the constitution in general or personal freedoms in particular if he can use them to his personal advantage. This is exactly why he molested the First Amendment to produce McCain-Feingold…a useless piece of excrement that does NOTHING to solve any problems with campaign financing and yet destroys a critical part of free speech rights enjoyed by Americans since 1776. I don’t think McCain is fit to be dogcatcher, and my biggest disappointment is that Arizonans continue to put his sorry a$$ in office, Ed

  12. Dan V.

    Mitt Romney is being mischaracterized as a ‘flip-flopper’ by the liberal media, which tend to support Democrats, as well as by those supporting other GOP front-runners. Romney is being attacked because he poses a serious threat to his political opponents on both sides of the aisle. We have all heard the accusation: “Romney has flip-flopped on every hot-button issue from gay marriage to abortion rights.” I think the word ‘every’ in that last statement is inaccurate and deceptive. Romney’s views on only two issues have come under scrutiny: 1) gay rights, and 2) abortion rights.
    Regarding gay rights, Kathleen Parker writes, “In fact, Romney has never supported same-sex marriage, which wasn’t even on the table in 1994 when he said he supported “full equality” for gays. In the context of the times, equality generally meant protecting gays from overt hostilities. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling to allow same-sex marriage wasn’t until Nov. 18, 2003.”
    In other words, Romney’s position on gay rights is the same as it’s always been.
    Regarding abortion rights, Parker writes, “Romney found the stem cell debate so complicated that he called in the nation’s top scientists for a private tutorial. What many Americans may not know about Romney is that he’s a nerd. A Harvard-educated wonk, he’s the kind of guy whose class notes you could borrow (if he’d let you) and know that you got the whole story…After studying the data, Romney decided that life begins at conception…All of which is to say that Romney did the nerd-wonk thing: he studied, he listened, he changed his mind.”
    Thus, Romney has not ‘flip-flopped’ on every hot-button issue; rather, he has ‘flip-flopped’ (if you want to call it that) on just one issue.
    Speak up. Those who support Romney should take every opportunity they have to clarify this point or any other Romney-mischaracterization among their friends and colleagues. The information age has democratized the spread of news and political commentary like never before. The days when the left-leaning media elite control an election’s outcome are over. In the 2008 election cycle, the ideaolgical battles will be waged, to a large extent, in the ‘blogosphere.’ If Romney supporters don’t speak up, either in person or in on-line forums, then the true character of Mitt Romney will continue to be misrepresented as the truth is drowned out by the misleading communications from his political opponents. In a recent FoxNews interview, Romney said that “anything is fair in politics,” referring to politics as “sports for old people.” To this I say: LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

  13. lee

    I guess the YouTube videos with words flying out of Romney’s mouth lies.
    Here are a few things you should know before you say the “liberal media” is behind Mitt’s destruction:
    The largest Massachusetts pro-life group is one of Mitt’s harshest critics because of his strong pro-choice comments in both 1994 and 2002 for his run for governor and senator. He was actually supported by Planned Parenthood during his run in 2002 for governor. He evolved becoming pro-life in 2004.
    He received strong support from all of the gay rights groups (HRC, GLADD, Log Cabin Republicans) based of his statements that he is a strong supporter of gay rights.
    He also marched in a Gay Pride Parade in Boston-wait until the video comes out where he is next to a Tina Turner and Cher drag queen.
    He dissed Reagan during his debates with Kennedy.
    He would not sign a “no tax pledge” during any of his runs and said that taxs may need to be raised. Now in 2007 he has signed Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge.
    He was for campaign finance reform and now over the past few months he is against it.
    Lastly, there will be suspicion from some in the religious community regarding his being a member of the LSD. If any people actually read about the LSD believes they will likely be scared off. South Park did a hilarious episode regarding the Mormons, very similar to what they did with the scientology episode.
    Romney is an opportunist who only cares about Romney.
    As a conservative republican from Massachusetts told me Romney ran as a liberal northeast repulican. Now he is running in the rest of the country as a social conservative.

  14. mike

    The good news is that Mitt has been married to the same woman and doesn’t seem to have had an affair.
    I think we can all agree that this is the most important issue on who we select for President.
    He obviously has strong family values.

  15. Ready to Hurl

    Heh, heh. Parker is such a partisan hack.
    NOW she’s all “nuanced” when it comes to Romney’s flip flops. Wonkish rationalizations and minute details flow in eye-glazing detail. Gotta put Romney’s support of gay rights “in context.” The defense doesn’t even pass the laugh test.
    The homophobic, anti-abortion and theocratic majority of Rethuglican primary voters will not be swayed. If Brownback can fund-raise and organize, the party faithful will flock.
    Romney experiences a “wonkish” epiphany which luckily coincides with his campaign for the anti-abortion party’s nomination. How fortuitous. Maybe he should claim to be “born again”– like Bush– so that he couldn’t be held to account for previous policy positions and “indiscretions.”
    Any Dem– and especially John Kerry– gets NO nuanced consideration from Parker.
    LOL. The wingnut hipocrisy is almost tangible but, of course, Brad thinks that Parker ranks only a little lower than Mother Theresa and Our Lady of the Dolphins.

  16. Wayne

    Our country is in need of a turnaround president – Romney is the one that can do just that. His record is full of experience in doing just that – In the private and public sector – turning around small and large businesses, the Olympics and the state of MA. As president, we won’t be disappointed, as he will take his collective knowledge gained from his past experience and put into the improvement of our great nation’s future.
    As for his religion, I am glad that he is religious and shares my Christian values. I would hope that he or any other president would seek direction from God himself on the best way to lead the nation that leads the world.
    Romney is a sleeping giant that is beginning to wake up. Hide and watch everyone, greater things are yet to come from Romney!

  17. Jon

    Thank goodness South Carolina isn’t the only state that gets to vote for the nomination. Romney will do well in the western states where Mormonism won’t be such a big issue & a lot of those states have moved their primaries to earlier dates. Romney’s flip-flopping on some issues bothers me, but he is trying to represent us – not himself – when elected.
    Everyone knows that the people in the South can be pretty intolerant of anyone who doesn’t fit their mold of what should be. If I remember correctly, we even fought a war over it sometime in the late 1800s. I guess some things never change. 🙂

  18. Don't think so

    I don’t believe that Romney will last to long in the state. He has some serious flaws in his definition of marriage and flip flopping on abortion.

  19. Steve Gordy

    I agree that Romney won’t do well in SC. His shifting positions on the aforementioned issues will provide cover for those who won’t vote for him because “Mormons aren’t Christians”.

  20. ken

    People who are against Romney because of his religion suffer from the 3 “ances”:
    IgnorANCE, ArrogANCE and IntolerANCE!
    Prejudices and bigotry aside, Romney is the most qualified candidate – in either party – to be President!
    SERIOUSLY, if I were to do a “line-up” of all the serious presidential candidates (Obama, Edwards, Hillary (or Billary? – j/k) McCain, Giuliani and Romney) here’s my – near best – objective analysis:
    Choice: Romney
    Believe it or not, in today’s world of tv/media obsession, “being kind to the camera” is a huge plus! And with the indisputable impact and role of the media in the election outcomes, I’d give the edge to Romney. By the way, if you think looks, are not important, then why all the fuss about the phrase: “looks presidential/looks like a president”?
    2. INTELLIGENCE based on educational and academic achievements:
    Choice: Romney – I’d dare anyone to challenge this one! (For those who do not know about Romney’s educational background, please check it out, it’s all over the ‘Net.)
    Choice: Romney. He has more experience, than any other candidate, both in the private and public sectors, which I must add, is an absolute must for a leader, especially of the US being the leader in democracy and capitalism. He was a CEO of a successful venture capital firm and was governor*. He was also asked to help rescue the 2002 Winter Olympics which was a SUCCESS! ($100 million profit). The national debt/deficit needs to be controlled if not eliminated and Romney has the experience to do that.
    Choice: Definitely Romney
    Need I say more? Integrity, clean, great family, doesn’t smoke or drink, etc., etc.,
    Choice: Romney (sorry Obama, Romney has addressed many more varieties of audiences through his private and public experience ). This is an indispensable skill for a president. By the way, I can’t wait for the debates to begin.
    Choice: Romney
    Need I list them? – ok, Health care, successful business ventures, balanced budgets, Winter Olympics, etc., etc., Through his accomplishments, he has acquired the necessary experience to be effective as president.
    Choice: I’ll give the edge to the Senators
    But note also, that Romney through his global business experience and deals, as well as being a smart person himself, Romney can easily outdo the senators in certain areas. He is a great communicator and will be an asset in international negotiations. He also has excellent knowledge and understanding of the world (nations and countries).
    Edge: Romney
    He headed the 2002 Winter Olympics and was in charge of security, especially a few months after 9-11. Romney was also a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).
    No other candidate had the experience of overseeing a huge security force and undertaking as Romney during the Olympics.
    Now, all politics and subjectivity aside, based on the above basic and most essential requirements for leadership, and presidential qualifications, who clearly has the advantage to become an effective president?
    MITT ROMNEY! (After all the title: “MR President” already has his initials!)
    Again, off all the candidates, Romney has the knowledge, skills, experience and character to become the next president.
    *Having been the governor of a liberal/democratic state, Romney will, therefore, be the best and effective president if by 2008 (and beyond), the Democrats still have the majority in both houses. Romney will be effective in such a “hostile” and divided environment – a Democrat dominated one! He would say: “been there, done that” (as it was in Massachusetts). Hence, no other candidate has had such an EXECUTIVE experience as Romney.

  21. The work and the glory

    Is the Book of Mormon what it claims to be? The LDS faith rests on two things; the first, is that the Book of Mormon is a true testament to Jesus’ visit to the Americas, and the second is that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Here we’ ll deal with the first question. See the PDF and decide.

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