Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that the Mormon church would have no influence on his decisions if he were to be elected. Romney narrowly won a straw poll of Christian conservatives over the weekend—beating out former Arkansas governer Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister—but recent Gallup polls found that 37 percent of churchgoing Protestants would not vote for a Mormon.
What the commentators said
Romney just blew a chance to put the issue of his Mormon faith behind him, said Noam Scheiber in The New Republic Online. He should have used last weekend’s Values Voters Summit to tell skeptics about his religion, up front. “Voters are going to find out about Romney's Mormonism one way or another. He might as well get some courage and authenticity points by telling them about it to their faces.”
It’s “anti-American to have religious tests of any kind for public office,” said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post (free registration). So Romney should not give a direct speech like the one that John F. Kennedy used to confront anti-Catholic bigotry. Instead, “He needs to explain how he can fairly ask that we not hold his faith against him”—because he’s an American, too—“even as he insists that religious people should vote for him because of the values his faith has taught him.”
Romney and the other candidates can twist themselves into knots, said Michelle Odis in HumanEvents.com, but they can’t win Christian conservatives’ hearts. They belong to Huckabee, who had the values crowd “eating out of his hand” and shouting, “Amen!” These are voters who don’t talk about national security. They want to hear about “abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem-cell research, issues that Huckabee is best on.”