In many respects, Gov. Mitt Romney is the most attractive potential presidential nominee the Republicans have. He is bright, good-looking, articulate, and conservative. But he is also a Mormon.
David Yepsen the Des Moines Register guy who always comes to the fore at Iowa caucus time, reports on how Romeny’s religion is playing with religious conservatives in that state. If Yepsen is correct, it isn’t playing too badly.
I am not a Christian conservative, and thus it’s difficult for me to speculate knowledgeably about how big a problem Romney’s religion will be for those who are. My guess is that, for some, it will prevent Romney from becoming a top choice. This will make capturing the nomination more difficult. However, if Romney is nominated I think he will have broad and strong support from religious conservatives in the general election.
Romney contends that the small number of Christian conservatives irrevocably put off by his religion will be offset by Mormons who rally to his support. This may be true in a few states, and Yepsen thinks Iowa may be one of them. But that’s mostly because Iowa has a caucus system (as opposed to a primary like virtually every other state), which means that a highly motivated group can have extra influence on the outcome.
JOHN adds: I am a Christian conservative, although when people use that phrase they always seem to be talking about someone else. For what it’s worth, I think most people would say, if a Mormon isn’t a Christian conservative, who is? My guess is that the only ones who don’t like Romney because he’s a Mormon wouldn’t like him if he were a Baptist, either. And there aren’t many of those left in the party.