Mitt Romney: Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

From a political strategy standpoint, Romney’™s efforts to engage the values voters may complicate the GOP equation. If he forces the other front-runner candidates to the right, it may hurt the appeal of a Rudi Giuliani with moderate and independent voters.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

In a moment of karmic irony, Mitt Romney’™s seemingly limitless desire to court the religious right, through his unabashed demonstrations of opposition to gays, may only be matched by the christian’™s displeasure with his Mormonism. Call me evil, but I love when one ‘œfundie flock’ has the potential to cancel out another.

Leading the way on an issue almost certain to be resurrected during the general election, Mitt Romney issued a statement this morning condemning the Democratic candidates for their refusal at last night’™s debate to rule out teaching about gay issues to second-graders.

Romney said that the answers proved ‘œhow out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people.’

‘œNot one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade,’ Romney notes. ‘œThis is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers.’

This is not the first time Romney has seized on teaching about gay issues to young children. In July, he took Obama to task after the Illinois senator told a Planned Parenthood conference that ‘œit’™s the right thing to do to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools.’ A rival to Romney pointed out that the former governor himself had supported ‘œage-appropriate’ sex ed in his 2002 gubernatorial bid.

While I have no particular axe to grind with Romney, I can’™t help but view his sudden ‘œdo-over demagoguery’ as a demonstration of his zeal for power and an important measure of his integrity quotient. I know’¦he wants us to believe that he has simply changed his mind on abortion and gay rights’¦and I’™m suddenly dating women’¦yea, right!

The problem the Romney strategy presents for the Democrats is that his insistence on carrying the values torch for the GOP will likely force his primary opponents to jump on the values bandwagon in an effort to prove their christian credentials. The fact that he instantly seized upon remarks made at last evenings Democratic debate support my concerns.

Fortunately (for those opposed to Mitt), Romney has an obstacle which may well prevent him from being anointed as the bastion for bible beaters. You see, they believe he suffers from the ailment of Mormonism’¦a belief system which many christians contend is unacceptable and nullifies his presidential pedigree. A new survey suggests Romney’™s religion may be a formidable obstacle.

MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 26 /Christian Newswire/ ‘” ChristiaNet.com, the world’™s largest Christian portal with twelve million monthly page loads, recently asked, ‘œWould you elect a Mormon for president?’ President of ChristiaNet, Bill Cooper, responds, ‘œAn overwhelming majority of Christians have spoken on the issue, they won’™t vote for a Mormon.’

Out of 2,000 Christians surveyed, 59% claimed they would not vote to elect a Mormon for president. Most comments resulted from the belief that Mormonism is a cult, ‘œThe church of Mormonism is a cult and I would never vote for a cult leader.’ Most in this category also felt that Mormons were not Christians, ‘œA Mormon is not a Christian, and they don’™t follow the Bible like Christians do.’ In fact, almost all responses in this category suggested that a Mormon’™s belief in Christ and God were contrary to a Christian’™s belief. ‘œThey believe in a different Jesus and a different God,’ is an example of one such comment.

I’™m not certain how reliable this survey data may be, but one would be naive to think that Romney’™s faith will have no bearing on the votes cast by the religious right. From a political strategy standpoint, Romney’™s efforts to engage the values voters may complicate the GOP equation. If he forces the other front-runner candidates to the right, it may hurt the appeal of a Rudi Giuliani with moderate and independent voters.

Whatever happens, the GOP race is bound to be a fascinating look at a party attempting to craft a winning identity in the aftermath of the 2006 election. While I have no dog in the show, I suspect Romney may be barking up the wrong tree.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, September 27th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

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