Republicans may be deeply divided over their presidential candidates, but they've achieved a surprising consensus about their dream vice presidential nominee: Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. He's young, photogenic, conservative, Latino, and popular in a crucial swing state. He's also, as BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins revealed on Thursday, a one-time Mormon. Rubio, 40, was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at age 8, along with his sister and mother, and enthusiastically participated in the church and LDS culture before converting back to Catholicism by the time he was 13. The Floridian's newly-revealed "Mormon roots" could muddy "the prospects of Rubio's getting the VP nod," especially if the nominee is the Mormon Mitt Romney, says Matt Negrin at ABC News. Would voters care if Romney-Rubio 2012 was arguably an "all-Mormon ticket"?
This could be a deal-breaker: The idea that Rubio's childhood Mormonism could keep him off a Romney ticket is deeply unfair and revolting, says BuzzFeed in an editorial. "Yet politics is fundamentally unfair," and "pathbreaking minorities" like Romney traditionally balance their ticket with a No. 2 from a safe, familiar group. That's why JFK was never "going to choose a running mate who'd been baptized Catholic," and Barack Obama didn't pick a VP with "roots in Africa."
"Does it matter that Rubio was a Mormon?"
Rubio is still a top-notch pick: The VP doesn't usually provide "ethnic and religious balance" to a ticket, says Kyle Munzenrieder at the Miami New Times. "Traditionally," the "white Christian" dude at the top of the ticket aims for geographic and ideological balance — "say, a Northern moderate (Romney) and a Southern conservative (Rubio)." Barring new revelations that "Rubio is actually a Mormon sleeper agent" in a Romney plot to "rule American under strict Mormon law," this is much ado about nothing.
"Tween Marco Rubio was a Mormon, but does anyone really care?"
Fair or not, this will dog Rubio: "Who is the real Marco Rubio?" asks Tim Stanley at Britain's The Telegraph: "Catholic? Evangelical? Mormon? Jedi?" Politicos have long made "Rubio's religious affiliation" a matter of "intense speculation." After all, he's an ex-Mormon who calls himself Catholic but attends a Baptist mega-church. "There's certainly no sin" in Rubio's religious preferences, but when a big part of your political identity is "telling people how important God is to you, you can't blame them for asking, 'Which one?'" And remember, "it's the drip, drip, drip of tired gossip that eventually kills a political career."
"Catholic, Evangelical, Mormon — who is the real Marco Rubio?"