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Cliff Owen, Associated Press
Mitt Romney

Now that it's official Jon Huntsman is resigning the U.S. ambassadorship to China effective April 30 (presumably to make a run for the White House), the question du jour becomes whether a candidate's Mormon faith precludes a viable candidacy for the U.S. presidency.

Mounting evidence is increasingly pointing to a brave new world where the perceived biases that potentially derailed Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign are dissolving and, lo and behold, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could realistically be elected president of the United States in 2012.

The Washington Post currently has two articles up examining the issue — a poll-based analysisand an op-ed piece.The article relying on polling culls its data from the 2008 election cycle, when the percentage of respondents saying they'd be less likely to vote for a Mormon presidential candidate dropped over a one-year period from 36 percent to 21. The opinion piece asks whether 2012 could be the Year of the Mormons

Over at Christianity Today, Tobin Grant examines which candidate Evangelicals like now that Huntsman is apparently entering the fray — and of course Mitt Romney is a big part of that discussion. An interesting snip:

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"In an open memo to 'conservative and evangelical leaders,' Mark DeMoss, of the Christian public relations firm The DeMoss Group, said that all of the potential candidates for the Republican nomination pass the traditional litmus tests on abortion and marriage. DeMoss offered a new litmust test: 'A candidate for president of the United States should be capable of becoming president, and then competent to be the president.' For DeMoss, the candidate that passes that test is Mitt Romney."

Finally, as we mentioned last week,Time Magazine recently rolled out a big profile on Mitt that makes almost no mention of his LDS affiliation.

Add it all up, and what do you have? While no one knows how Huntsman and Romney will fare in the Republican presidential primaries, it's now looking more and more like their Mormon affiliation won't amount to a de facto disqualification.

e-mail: jaskar@desnews.com