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Columnist: Mitt Romney swings between 'Good Mitt,' the possible future president, and 'Bad Mitt,' the hyperbolic candidate

Published: Thursday, June 9 2011 12:47 a.m. MDT

While the nation continues to chatter about Mitt Romney and how his Mormon heritage might affect his presidential candidacy, a Washington Post columnist asserted Wednesday that it's not his religion, but his pandering, that will do him in.

In reviewing Romney's recently released book, "No Apology", columnist Steven Pearlstein said he found the "Good Mitt" and the "Bad Mitt." With a distinguished political pedigree, a successful career and a beautiful family, Pearlstein wrote, Good Mitt "could be the next president of the United States." Bad Mitt, though, "inartfully" panders to the Republican right wing.

"Instead of demonstrating the honesty and character to boldly lead the country beyond the partisan feud and the ideological holy war, the Bad Mitt reveals himself to be just another ambitious, poll-tested pol that no one can trust," Pearlstein wrote. "It's why he lost the last time. And my guess is it's why he'll lose again."

In the meantime, the Wall Street Journal reported voters are wary of a Mormon president.

According to the Quinnipiac University Poll, more than one-third of voters report feeling uncomfortable with a presidential candidate from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Only Muslims and atheists received less support.

"It appears that the American people — especially Democrats — have many more questions about a Mormon in the White House than they do about followers of other religions," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The fact that less than half of voters have a favorable view of the religion is likely to be a political issue that Gov. Mitt Romney, and should his campaign catch on, Gov. Jon Huntsman, will have to deal with as they pursue the White House."

Last week, a national poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that more than two-thirds of voters — 68 percent — said a candidate's Mormon affiliation wouldn't matter to them in the voting booth.

In a CNN interview earlier this week, Romney pushed back against host Piers Morgan's question about how his faith might influence his policy should he win the White House in 2012.

"I'm not a spokesman for my church," Romney said. "And one thing I'm not going to do in running for president is become a spokesman for my church or apply a religious test that is simply forbidden by the Constitution. I'm not going there. If you want to learn about my church, talk to my church."

EMAIL: estuart@desnews.com

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