LDS Democrats gather in Charlotte to unite LDS values, Democratic policies at convention
"Mitt Romney has been great for LDS Democrats because he's brought attention to Mormonism in general and Mormons in politics specifically," Janis said. "His candidacy has motivated a lot of Mormons to be more interested in politics."
And when they start paying attention to politics, Janis added, many Mormons discover that Romney's Republican Party doesn't accurately reflect their values.
"I think the Republican Party has moved far enough to the right that it should make a lot of my fellow Mormons feel uncomfortable," he said. "That is typically how it goes. Most of us who are involved with LDS Democrats were Republicans at some point in our lives. But we decided to leave the party because we felt the Democratic Party was more in tune with the things that are important to us."
Of course, he said, there are elements of the Democratic philosophy with which he and other LDS Democrats feel uncomfortable.
"I'm sure it's that way in both parties," he said. "Many of us are uncomfortable with our party's position on abortion, just as I'm sure there are many Republicans who are uncomfortable with their party's lack of attention to 'love thy neighbor.'"
In fact, Janis said, "the Republican Party is saying that the idea of loving our neighbor and taking care of each other are not good things to be striving for. I'm sure that makes a lot of LDS Republicans pause and wonder if they are in the right party."
Janis said he felt the Republican National Convention last week "did a great job" of "humanizing" Romney by talking about his service as a lay leader in the LDS Church, and he doesn't expect any kind of counteroffensive on the subject of Mormonism during the DNC.
"I expect that the Democrats will spend time focusing on the issues of the campaign, not on Mitt's Mormonism," Janis said, referring to Hatch's early prediction that the Obama campaign would attack perceived Mormon "weirdness."
"Harry Reid has been in Democratic Party leadership positions for years, and no one has cared that he is Mormon," Janis said. "It's a non-issue to Democrats. It's never been a bone of contention."
The political attacks on Mormonism, he said, have come from the far right wing of the Republican Party, not from the left.
Still, he said, "people in the Democratic Party have taken an interest in LDS Democrats."
"There is no major push to promote us," he said. "But make no mistake, they are aware of us, and they are interested."
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