A Wink and a Nod Campaign

The campaign currently being waged against Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith is, almost word for word, directly comparable to the non-troversy that was President Obama and Jeremiah Wright in 2008.

In both instances, a campaign of winks and nods, and sometimes blatant accusations from the fringe, call into question their faith. In 2008, President Obama’s Christian authenticity was challenged and even lead to accusations that he was a secret Muslim, terrorist sympathizer.

That campaign didn’t work in 2008, but that was a general election match-up where in the Evangelical base of the Republican Party was the minority.

In the 2012 Republican primary, the Evangelical base is the majority, and a majority of them more than likely will not vote for someone who they view as a religious pariah. And while conservative pundits who appear on TV have been quick to dismiss the comments made by the likes of Robert Jeffress and Bryan Fischer, you would be hard pressed to find a conservative discussion forum that is not in total agreement with them.

As for the other Republican presidential candidates, their primary concern is whether or not this wink and nod campaign will benefit their candidacy. For them, it’s still too early to tell which way the wind is blowing, so for the time being they will take a page out of the Birtherism playbook and simply say something along the lines of “I take him at his word.”

Appearing on CNN Sunday, both Republican presidential candidates Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann repeatedly dodged questions on whether fellow candidate Mitt Romney was a Christian. […]

CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Cain and Bachmann if they agreed that Romney was not a Christian.

“I’m not running for theologian in chief,” Cain declared. “I’m a lifelong Christian. And what that means is that one of my guiding principles for decisions I make is I start with ‘do the right thing.’ I’m not getting into that controversy.”

“But it will still beg the question that you dodged a direct question: Is Mitt Romney not a Christian?” Crowley asked.

“He’s a Mormon, that much I know,” Cain replied. “I am not going to do an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity for the sake of answering that. I’m not getting into that…”

Ask me again in a week or two after I have a look at the latest poll numbers, Candy.

Herman Cain’s non-dismissive, dismissal will suffice for official candidates, but fringe figures such as the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer isn’t holding anything back.

“I think as people become more and more familiar with the substance of Mormon teaching, then I think what it does for them is it begins to raise questions about the judgment of someone who wants to be our president and yet subscribes to some of these doctrines,” Fischer said. “And again, I just think this is a decision that Republican voters are going to have to make.”

Fischer went on to add that the next president must deny evolution, must veto any increase of the debt-ceiling, must treat homosexuals as a public health threat, and must be “of sincere authentic genuine Christian faith.”

Those are crazy words from a crazy man, without a doubt, but he is speaking for a base of crazy voters who agree with nearly every word he says. This is why, as Bob opined earlier, Mitt Romney will not be the nominee.

Mitt Romney will more than likely win the New Hampshire primary, but where does he go from there? He has virtually no chance of winning any of the southern states.

Rick Perry remains the front runner in my view if for no other reason than being a perfect representation of a bible-thumping, gun-toting, conservative politician. And even if his poll numbers temporarily drop after a week of negative media coverage, he remains a staple representation of everything the Lunatic Base wants. Rick Perry is their Sunday afternoon comfort food.

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  • muselet

    Steve Benen doesn’t quite come out and say the immigration issue will sink Rick Perry’s campaign, but Goodhair has a real problem with the Lunatic Base™ on this one. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out.

    –alopecia

  • D_C_Wilson

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that Mittens does get the nomination. Will people like Fischer support him? That’s a real question that establishment republicans who back him will have to face. Can they get the evangelicals to toe the party line behind what they see as a cultist?

    One real possibility I see is Bachmann going third party. If that happens, she could pull enough of the Loony Tunes vote away from Romney to sink the GOP’s hopes.

    • JMAshby

      I think conservative voter turnout would be very low in the general if it were Romney. They may publicly support him, but turnout will say otherwise.

  • priscianusjr

    I don’t see any significant similarity between the Jeremiah Wright issue with Obama, and the Mormon issue with Romney. The Jeremiah Wright thing had some theological overtones like “Liberation Theology”, if you cared to see them, but they were all swallowed up in what was really a classic racial/radical-left dog whistle. It was much more like the Bill Ayers smear, where there was neither a religious nor an explicitly racial element (other than the attempt to link the black candidate to the radical left).
    The Mormon issue has zero racial component. Despite the LDS fairly recent efforts to change their image, few groups have a “whiter” image than the Mormons, and Romney is no less “white” than they are. The controvery over Mormonism is first and foremost theological, but it isn’t over small details. The Mormon deviation from mainline Christianity is huge, and matters to a voting block with strong Christian concerns. There are also genuine political issues based on the way the LDS Church operates. In terms of power, money and influence, it is just laughable to compare what Wright represents to what the LDS power structure represents.
    Finally, Obama, as it turned out. readily dissassociated himself from Wright, especially after Wright tried to use his 15 minutes of fame to build himself up and pull Obama down. There’s no way Romney is going to repudiate the LDS.