The new Politico article "GOP to Mitt: Own your Mormonism" endeavors to provide a fresh look at a recurring theme — how Christians and conservatives view Mitt Romney's LDS religion — now that Romney has essentially locked up the Republican presidential nomination.
Two of the most interesting points of view espoused in the article come from its first and final sources: former Rick Santorum supporter Penny Young Nance, who is president of the advocacy group Concerned Women for America; and Steve Schmidt, chief strategist during Sen. John McCain's failed 2008 presidential bid.
Nance: “I will support anyone against this president (Obama). (Romney's) religion isn’t the issue — he’s the issue. At some point you need to be honest about who you are. He has an authenticity problem. People don’t get him. They don’t feel that they know the guy.”
Schmidt: “I really think that the presidential election process today is such that people demand to know the candidates intimately. It’s very difficult to run a winning election if the America people view you as two-dimensional. Mitt Romney has led (an) exemplary life by any definition. He’s a strong family man, he’s successful and charitable — and he has played a big role in his community and in his church. At the end of the day, people who know him best have to create the settings where who he is comes through.”
Writing for Commentary Magazine — a conservative publication founded by the American Jewish Committee — Seth Mandel wasted no time in not only trashing the Politico article generally ("A common feature of the competitive political news industry is the high volume of overpromising headlines. A good example is today’s Politico feature"), but also bombing Schmidt specifically ("This advice is from, well, Steve Schmidt, so it’s hard to imagine the GOP doing anything with that advice but running from it as if it’s on fire").
Mandel ultimately concluded, "The best argument I can think of in favor of opening up the Mormon issue is that Democrats, as indicated by (Obama campaign adviser David) Axelrod, will attempt to portray the religion in the most negative light possible. But now faced with trying to win Democratic votes against an incumbent Democratic president, it may still be perilous for Romney to raise the issue himself."
Romney leads President Barack Obama, 47-44, in new polling that Rasmussen Reports released Monday.