I’ve been impressed this year by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and I’m pleased to see his name being mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. I posted on his judgment on the embryonic stem cell issue here, and on his call for the death penalty in Massachusetts if the standard of “no doubt” is met, here.
Hugh Hewitt points to a good column by Terry Eastland that weighs the merits of a Romney and finds it plausible.
My colleague Matt cites an optimistic NRO column, but he doesn’t believe Romney’s Mormonism will fly in the South or among evangelicals. Mark Daniels doesn’t think Romney’s faith will be a problem unless he pushes it too much.
It is untested ground because there hasn’t been a serious Mormon contender since Mitt’s father, George Romney, and his candidacy crashed for other reasons. My theory is that evangelical conservatives are less inclined to put their faith ahead of their politics in these matters than the secularists believe. That’s not necessary good news, and we’ve decried this tendency in this space.
If Romney’s policy credentials look solid to evangelicals, and it appears he could beat Hillary Clinton, I believe evangelicals will focus on his conservative values and not on his Mormonism.
One rationale I would use is the evangelicals’ embrace of Ronald Reagan, by no means an evangelical and not even a church-goer. He carried the banner for many issues of concern to evangelicals.
Mitt Romney could do the same. And if he can win in the northeast, it’s trouble for any Democrat.