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February 8, 2007
Stop The Presses!

The New York Times has a hot scoop on the 2008 Presidential campaign that will blow all of us away. It's a secret that may undo the efforts of Mitt Romney to challenge for the nomination. In fact, the news may wind up challenging American ideals of political access and religious tolerance in ways we have not seen in decades.

Are you ready for this big scoop? Can you handle the truth? Well, okay, here it is -- Mitt Romney is a Mormon:

As he begins campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is facing a threshold issue: Will his religion — he is a Mormon — be a big obstacle to winning the White House?

Polls show a substantial number of Americans will not vote for a Mormon for president. The religion is viewed with suspicion by Christian conservatives, a vital part of the Republicans’ primary base.

Mr. Romney’s advisers acknowledged that popular misconceptions about Mormonism — as well as questions about whether Mormons are beholden to their church’s leaders on public policy — could give his opponents ammunition in the wide-open fight among Republicans to become the consensus candidate of social conservatives.

Mr. Romney, in an extended interview on the subject as he drove through South Carolina last week, expressed confidence that he could quell concerns about his faith, pointing to his own experience winning in Massachusetts. He said he shared with many Americans the bafflement over obsolete Mormon practices like polygamy — he described it as “bizarre” — and disputed the argument that his faith would require him to be loyal to his church before his country.

“People have interest early on in your religion and any similar element of your background,” he said. “But as soon as they begin to watch you on TV and see the debates and hear you talking about issues, they are overwhelmingly concerned with your vision of the future and the leadership skills that you can bring to bear.”

Still, Mr. Romney is taking no chances. He has set up a meeting this month in Florida with 100 ministers and religious broadcasters. That gathering follows what was by all accounts a successful meeting at his home last fall with evangelical leaders, including the Rev. Jerry Falwell; the Rev. Franklin Graham, who is a son of the Rev. Billy Graham; and Paula White, a popular preacher.

Uh, okay. Didn't the New York Times remember to write about this in November, when everyone else did? I'm a little stumped as to why this is a front-page, above the fold story at this stage of the campaign -- especially when the Times couldn't find a single substantive voice among evangelicals to state that they had issues with Romney on the basis of his faith.

Yet not only does the Paper of Record give this the top-line treatment, they also include a separate reader comment thread on the front page of their website. In their effort to drum up a controversy where none exists, the Times forgets to mention that the Senate has at least two Mormons, one on each side of the aisle, and yet no one is asking whether the Republic can handle an LDS member as Senate Majority Leader. Their readers spend most of the comment thread yawning at this huge political story, with one of them asking, "Didn’t we work this all out with JFK?"

We certainly thought we had. Apparently, the New York Times missed that story, too.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 8, 2007 6:35 AM

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Tracked on February 9, 2007 5:23 AM


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