- a weak candidate going up against an incumbent with decent if not outstanding approval ratings;
a near exclusive reliance on conservative white voters who account for a shrinking percentage of the electorate;
half-hearted outreach at best to black, Hispanic, and female voters;
a significant disadvantage in the key state of Ohio because of Mr. Romney’s opposition to the auto industry bailout.
In other words, Scott is contending that the church in effect licensed Romney’s better-than-Kennedy promises on gay rights…
(Mr. Romney subsequently displayed a hostility to gay equality more in keeping with the teachings of his church, and secreted funneled $10,000 to the California Proposition 8 anti gay marriage initiative through an Alabama PAC. There is some talk that the LDS conceived its anti gay marriage campaign as a bonding opportunity with the Christian evangelical churches which would be crucial to Mr. Romney’s electoral fortunes, but usually abhorred the Mormon church as a sect.)
Romney’s ability to thread the theological needle in Massachusetts perhaps hooked him on the serial practice of flipflopperai in the service of the greater good i.e. getting Mitt Romney elected, which he has displayed for the balance of his political career.
Romney’s liberal campaign position, electoral success, and generally uncontentious tenure in Massachusetts (in 2004, two years into his term he lame-ducked himself by announcing “his work was done” and he would not run for a second term, and began laying the groundwork for his first run at the presidency) seems to have inoculated him against challenging scrutiny of the role of his religion in his racial attitudes.
One of the few times the subject came up was in 2007, as an article by Edward Wyckoff Williams relates:
Romney has claimed that he was so moved when the church finally allowed blacks into the priesthood that he broke into tears. Yet he was a full grown man in his 30s and there is no evidence whatsoever that he previously objected to or campaigned against the blatantly racist policies.
Romney was confronted on this issue in a December 2007 appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. The late Tim Russert brought up the ban on blacks and the fact that Romney was an adult before the ban was lifted. Russert pointedly asked if Romney had a problem with associating himself with an organization that was seen as racist. Romney answered, “I’m not going to distance myself in any way from my faith.”
Russert asked if Romney was willing to disavow the Church’s earlier teachings, and Romney refused — choosing instead to cite examples of how his father supported civil rights. Mitt even claimed that his father, George Romney, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. — a statement that was later proven false and that Romney recanted.
Afterwards, Mr. Romney was presumably considered “vetted” on the Mormon race issue, at least in the mainstream secular quadrant of the media.
Mr. Romney's loyalty to the doctrines of his church as set forth by its current leadership is, I think, unquestioned. But one wonders to what extent the attitudes of his upbringing, education, and early adulthood during the era when overt racism was embedded in church doctrine were reversed by the largely tactical shift of LDS policy on racial discrimination in 1978.
When it came time for him to run against Barack Obama the question of whether he considered it conceivable that that a black man—bearing the mark of Cain—could cast down a senior member of the Mormon church was not considered a subject for elevated political discourse.
The question of whether Mr. Obama’s race contributed to Mr. Romney’s oblivious overoptimism may never be answered but it is probably a significant one.