Now that Mitt Romney’s candidacy is officially dead, there’s one big burning question left: Whodunnit? If the failure of the Romney run had anything to do with Mormonism, it will be important for the country to know it. I imagine that many will offer their own answer to the question, and I will certainly do so myself when I’ve had a moment to step back and think about it. In the meantime, here is how some others have answered the question: “Did Mormonism kill Romney’s candidacy?” (The Article VI post and the Times and Seasons comments are especially interesting for those wondering how America’s Mormons are feeling about all this as well).
Article VI Blog: Sort of.
I am convinced that my own experience, as the Romney candidacy has unfolded, has been shared by most of my fellow Latter-day Saints. We have been genuinely surprised by the reactions to the Governor’s run. We did not expect Al Mohler to agonize publicly over whether he could, as “a matter of Christian discipleship,” justify voting for a Mormon. We did not see Huckabee’s question, “Don’t Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers?” coming, and we were stunned when it did. (The outrage came later.) The Iowa outcome caught most of us flat-footed too.
This group saw these developments “in sorrow more than anger.”
An advisor to the Romney campaign says that Mormonism was a big issue, but that Huckabee was a bigger one. “I heard from people that he did not have conservative record and the Mormonism, I never stopped hearing about that,” the advisor said. “But if Huckabee would have dropped out earlier, we’d have a horserace going on. He divided the vote.”
At the same time, Romney’s Mormonism and Huckabee’s rise probably have a lot to do with each other. Would Huckabee have risen as strongly as he did, almost entirely on the strength of evangelical support, if evangelicals were less disinclined to support a Mormon?
Russell Arben Fox of Times and Seasons: No. (Commenters: Yes!).
I would be sad–I would be angry, I would be frustrated and depressed and pissed–if the only message here was “no one will listen to a Mormon, because they hate us.” But at most, I think the message here is “if a Mormon without any deep roots in or even much of a relationship with the Christian rights decides, for some mix of personal conviction and political calculation, to make a play for Christian right voters against a former Southern Baptist preacher, one that will not be above making jokes and comments here and there to demonstrate his bona fides to his core supporters, prepare to not win.” The anti-Mormonism out there–which surely is real, but is just as surely, I think at least, to be mostly implicit and/or subconscious and/or in the eye of the beholder–is just going to the icing on your farewell cake.
T&S commenter Dave:
Hate is kind of a strong word; contempt is the better word. It’s not because he ran against Romney or caused Romney’s candidacy to fail that Huckabee deserves contempt, that’s just part of politics. It’s because he used a sly form of religious bigotry to drum up support for himself (a bad thing on general principles) and because it was directed at my religion (a bad thing for me and my family). Huckabee merits contempt and I’m happy to oblige him. He’s a religious edition of Richard Nixon.
Exit polls: Possibly
Now, if Romney hadn’t given evangelicals second thoughts simply over his religion, would Mike Huckabee have happened? It may be Romney needs another four years to convince evangelicals his religion won’t interfere with their priorities.
Huckabee: Let’s chat about this sometime over lunch at the Naval Observatory.