Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

The Blowback from Charles Blow; and Marco Rubio — the Mormon?

Posted by: Lowell Brown at 10:19 pm, February 23rd 2012     —    4 Comments »

Charles  Blow: Mitt’s Reaction

It so happened that Mitt Romney was on Hugh Hewitt’s show today, and Hugh asked Romney almost immediately about Charles Blow’s comment (detailed in our post just below).

HH:  Governor, I’ve got to start with something that’s mildly distasteful.  Last night during the debate New York Times columnist Charles Blow tweeted this: “Let me just tell you this Mitt ‘Muddle Mouth’: I’m a single parent and my kids are *amazing*! Stick that in your magic underwear.”  Now, I know you’re not surprised about hostility from the New York Times, and I know you’re not surprised by anti-Mormon bigotry, but are you surprised by anti-Mormon bigotry in a New York Times columnists’s tweets?

MR:  That is a little surprising, I must admit.  I guess we’re finding out for the first time that the media is somewhat biased. (Laughs.)

HH:  But do you expect — a lot of people worry that if you’re the nominee, and increasingly it looks like you will be, that the Obama campaign, operating with the mainstream media, will unleash a lot of anti-LDS stuff on you.  How are you preparing for that, Governor?

MR:  You know, I don’t think that will be particularly helpful for their cause.  The truth of the matter is, they’ve got  a lot of ways to attack our nominee.  They’re going to make their attacks on a personal basis.  They really have a hard time defending President Obama on the basis of his economic record, on the basis of his foreign policy record — particularly given the developments in Iran as well as his mismanagement of Iraq and Afghanistan.  So they’re going to make personal attacks.  I think it’s going to wear very badly and the American people are not going to line up for that kind of, if you will, divisiveness and demonization of their fellow Americans.

Hugh will have the full transcript of the interview here a little later tonight.

I have heard some express disappointment in the Governor’s response.  To me it seems that he was (a) surprised at the sophomoric, vulgar nature of the tweet — this appeared to be the first Mitt had heard of it — and (b) reluctant to give the appearance of whining about the attack.  As a Mormon, I can say that when it comes to jokes about our religious garments, rolling our eyes and dismissing the subject are almost habitual responses.  It’s hard to justify dignifying the joke with a response. (What would you do if someone started joking in public  about your underwear?)  Besides, for years now Romney has almost always avoided responding directly to religious attacks on him, leaving that task to surrogates.  I think that’s what he was doing here.

As of 9:30 p.m. EST today, the New York Times had not responded to inquiries about Blow’s tweet.

Marco Rubio’s Mormon Past

The big Article VI news of the day is that Marco Rubio became a Mormon as a boy, but drifted away from active membership beginning at about age 13.  Unless he asked to be removed from the church’s rolls, he is probably still listed as  a member.

No, I am not making this up.  No one could make it up.  Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins broke the story.  Ben Smith later commented:

BuzzFeed’s report this morning that Marco Rubio was baptized and raised for a time as a Mormon produced a quick reaction — that Mitt Romney now can’t choose him as vice president — and a quick revulsion at that conclusion, which just doesn’t seem fair.

“The revelation … muddies the prospects of Rubio’s getting the VP nod from Romney,” wrote ABC’s Matt Negrin. “Though many conservatives love Rubio — he overwhelmingly won a straw poll for vice presidential nominee at an annual gathering of conservatives in Washington this month — the bottom of the ticket is often used for balancing a variety of attributes.”

“I have to think it’s actually disqualifying,” lamented the conservative blogger Ace of Spades. “And I like Rubio. I’ve been saying for two years that we don’t know who the presidential candidate will be but we know exactly who the vice presidential candidate will be. Alas. Not that it’s a crime. Just that it precludes one particularly-strong ticket. Probably our strongest.”

Hugh Hewitt tweeted in response:

not remotely a reason not to pick Rubio “@BuzzFeedBen: My take on Rubio having been a mormon: Politics isn’t fair http://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpolitics/does-it-matter-that-rubio-was-a-mormon”

There’s much to say about this. For now we want to get the Romney comment posted and join the discussion.

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