RENO, Nev. - Former Utah Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman campaigned in neighboring Nevada on Friday, saying he doesn't believe his Mormon faith will be an issue in his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
"Nor should it be," Huntsman told reporters in Reno. "I'm not running for guru here."
Romney also is Mormon. So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said earlier this week he'd pick Huntsman over Romney if he had to. Polls show many voters have reservations about electing a Mormon president."
Given that the economy is still in bad shape in election year 2012 President Obama would be on very weak ground in having to defend his record. Even given his abundant financial resources, the "bully pulpit" and prestige of the presidency if the economy, and especially unemployment, has tanked, then holding office is no guarantor of re-election (see Presidents G.W.H. Bush and Carter for example).
Therefore anything that can deflect from the economic debate can only assist as a fence cover over the issue, and of course the more sensational, acerbic and, most importantly, distant from the economy, the better for Obama. Nothing is more inclusive of those categories than religion, and no religion will undergo more sensational scrutinizing, suck up more oxygen, and deflect from the major economic issues than Mormonism.
Nothing could make this clearer than for Huntsman to have to address the issue almost immediately upon declaring his candidacy. Nothing could make this clearer than for his addressing the issue being the headline article in media across America. Nothing could make this clearer than the fact that, according to Gallup, the amount of voters who state they will not vote for a Mormon has, after declining from Romney's last campaign, shot up 29%-and that is even before the issue has received a millionth of the airing it would get if Romney or Huntsman got the GOP candidacy.
There has been a small indication of what might eventuate from even this lowly blog. I set out my personal opinion of how I might vote if Romney was the GOP candidate wherein I indicated, as the core of the matter for me; "I am certain That Mitt Romney has a belief in his Mormon faith that is deeply held and sincere. It, his faith, is a mark of his character which I applaud and respect. It appears to me that he, through his faith holds to ideals of peace, love and humanity. Indeed, I have never met a person of the Mormon faith whom I did not find anything but pleasant, especially at a number of inter-faith meetings I have attended at the Church of Latter Day Saints temples from time to time.
Thus for Romney to hold, as I am sure he sincerely does, to the purported historic roots of the Mormon faith shows that, to me at least, he has thought processes that are a significant aspect of his personality that are questionable in respect of wider views he might hold now or in the future.These include concepts which, again to me, are are totally divorced from reality. I would not look to a candidate for president to have, again as a major aspect of his very being, this sort of mindset. Simply put, if non-rationality at this core level can be accepted and acted on then what other non-rationality can also be accepted and acted on?
Subsequent to this an intellectual, pan-spiritual website Patheos, ran an article "A vote for Romney is a vote for the LDS church" which commenced the Romney faith controversy, thankfully from a high toned level which will not, I am certain, be the norm in months to come. Which article I answered as missing the point, stating a Romney campaign was not about the LDS but was about qualities of leadership.
The main thrust of my argument, in italics above, was picked up by a subsequent Patheos writer and his article generated a substantial response, some of much length and detail, relating to numerous aspects of the Mormon faith-some ridiculing it, some defending it, some dismissing its influence on the campaign and on the candidates who hold it.
The point being that even at this obscure level of debate the mere mention of the subject is enough to get keyboards clacking, whilst the major issue of President Obama's fitness for a second term, based on the results of his economic management, goes by the board.
If anyone thinks that the Mormon faith does not hold tenets which are considered controversial, or in fact in total contradiction to the mainstream flow of traditional Christianity then this article (which I make no judgement about) will quickly disabuse them.There is enough in just this one exposition of Mormonism to keep the blogosphere aflame for an election campaign.
To state that JFK's religion did not deflect from his campaign messaging is disingenuous-it quite possibly destroyed the campaign of his Catholic predecessor Al Smith. He most certainly had to address it and laid it to rest by his handling of it. However to compare Catholicism, which is after all, the largest Christian denomination in the world, and a substantial one in America, and is, more to the point, the founding faith of Christianity, to Mormonism, which is, relatively, a tiny sect which hold doctrines apparently in contradiction to both Catholicism and Protestantism is simply wrong.
In what might be a very close election contest to have the main issue lacking coverage because of intense debate of a peripheral issue, and to lose, on current polling, 22% of potential voters could be disastrous for the Republican campaign.