Mitt Romney Rolls the Dice

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Snake EyesMitt Romney has decided to make “the speech.” The speech in which he tries to allay fears about belonging to the Mormon church, which many evangelicals believe is not Christian. Mitt’s cheering fan club will cautiously say that this is a good idea and that Romney has been planning to do this for some time. That’s nonsense. “The speech” has been on the back burner because it’s not something that Team Romney has been anxious to do, especially not during the primary.

Make no mistake about it, there is one reason and one reason alone that “the speech” is being pulled out of mothballs now: Mike Huckabee is presenting a serious challenge to him in Iowa. And I’m not not so sure that this is a good move for Romney. It’s a big gamble for him for a number of reasons.

  • Perception of Weakness
  • Makes Mormonism a Legitimate Issue
  • Little To Gain, Much To Lose

All of a sudden deciding to make “the speech” now shows weakness: the Romney campaign is clearly worried about Huck. That’s the only reason to play the Mormon card at this time.

The speech also makes the issue of Romney’s religion a legitimate issue. Once Mitt brings it up and tries to equate it with Christianity, it opens a Pandora’s Box which he will be unable to close. People who didn’t know or care about his religion will now be thinking about it. That Romney himself chose to speak about it, to downplay or justify it, will plant in peoples’ minds that it is something for them to be concerned about.

The Book of MormonFrankly I don’t see what he expects to gain from this. He is not JFK. He’s not going to convince people that see Mormonism as a cult that it’s not. I’m not sure that there’s a lot of people waiting for Mitt to say “Mormonism rocks!” before they throw their support behind him. But there’s the chance, if he flubs it, or even if he doesn’t, that this will create concern in peoples’ minds where they did not already exist. This is a risky move. Team Romney is feeling some desperation. That seems obvious.

Equating Mormonism and Christianity is very risky. Pointing out the differences is likewise risky. I’m not sure how Team Romney expects this is going to help his campaign. It probably won’t. And that’s perfectly fine with me.

If Mitt claims that Mormonism is superior to Christianity (because it has Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a sequel to The Bible, revealed by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith) or that The Bible contains mistakes (in content or translation), that Mormons can become gods in the afterlife, that Jesus and Satan were brothers, that Adam and Eve were heroes for disobeying G-d, etc., etc., it’s going to seriously hurt his chances among America’s mainstream Christians.

There are plenty of reasons not to support Romney. Addressing his religion in “the speech” will not make those reasons go away. Mitt is taking a big gamble. There’s a lot of chips in Iowa. Romney may be handing them to Huck. How generous of him!

Update: Tommy Oliver voices his concerns. Hot Air also reacts.

Update 2: This is not Mitt Romney: Rare video JFK 1960 Speech at the Houston Ministers.

Related and relevant: Political Power in the Pulpit, a guest post by former Mayor Jeff Foli.

— Psycheout

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7 Responses to “Mitt Romney Rolls the Dice”

  1. ChenZhen Says:

    That’s some good analysis Psycheout. I concur. I think good old Mitt was better off just letting it stay out of the forefront. But, hey, what do I care, right?

  2. ChenZhen Says:

    BTW- per the Colbert Report, here is a suggested thumbnail for future Romney posts LOL

    Guy Smiley

    /not that you don’t already have the best visual aids in the blogosphere!

  3. Mittens Set To Chat Up Mormonism « Blogs 4 Brownback Says:

    […] For more detailed analysis, see Mitt Romney Rolls the Dice. […]

  4. Psycheout Says:

    Hey, he does look like Guy Smiley! Why the long face?

  5. ed Says:

    Excellent analysis. Mitt will do the following in the big speech:

    1. Emphasize that he is a devout Christian.
    2. He shares common values with all other Christians.
    3. He makes his own decisions politically and is not influenced by any Church leaders (just like all other Christian politicians).
    4. Cautiously imply that having to discuss his religion has been brought on by religious bigotry.
    5. Smile a lot and remind you of his business and political successes.
    6. Lastly, core LDS beliefs and doctrine will not be touched with a 10 foot pole.

    Since primarily people who already have a beef with his religion or are supporters of his religion will pay much attention, the speech won’t make a big difference.

  6. Psycheout Says:

    That sounds about right, ed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Tarp Says:

    Gov. Huckabee (and Giuliani too) finally wiped the smug smirks off of Ann’s bloated big face and Mitt’s blinking, condescending, holier-than-thou face ! More Americans see them as they really are – bitter, miserable people who thought the world was owed to them. Mitt is NOT fit to be in our great White House ! He can get off his high horse now. He is once again, a nobody. MOVE ON, Romneys !

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