In keeping with his practice while Governor of Massachusetts, Gov. Romney said today he would forgo a salary as president. Instead, he would donate the $400,000 to charity. That was the headline of this story, but perhaps the more newsworthy item was Gov. Romney’s encounter with a New Hampshire voter:
Romney started his day on a sour note, when a restaurant patron declared he would not vote for him because of his faith.
“I’m one person who will not vote for a Mormon,” Al Michaud of Dover shouted at Romney when the former Massachusetts governor approached him inside Harvey’s Bakery in downtown Dover.
Romney kept smiling as he asked, “Can I shake your hand anyway?”
Michaud replied, “No.”
Michaud later told reporters he was not “a right-winger,” alluding to some evangelical Christians who have compared Romney’s faith to a cult. Instead, Michaud stated he was “a liberal.”
He said he planned to vote for Clinton should she win the Democratic presidential nomination.
You know those polls we always hear about that tell us that X percent of Americans won’t vote for a Mormon? It’s time we–and the mainstream media–realize that a good portion of them are, like Michaud, vehemently anti-religion secularists–and not “right-wingers” that the media wrongly assumes will reject a Mormon candidate. I’d bet that Michaud refused to shake Gov. Romney’s hand not because he disagrees with the Governor’s views on Joseph Smith, but because he disdains Gov. Romney for having any religion at all, much less one that influences his political views. It’s not about Mormonism specifically; it’s about people of faith generally. That’s why EFM so firmly believes that, politically speaking, we’re all in this together.
On a side note, it will be interesting to see how–or if–the media covers this story. Will they play it off as an isolated incident, or one that is representative of a larger trend? I don’t think it would be all that unreasonable to treat it as the former. However, I do wonder how close we’d get to another “national discussion” about race (e.g. the Imus situation) if a white man refused to shake Barack Obama’s hand. But bigotry is bigotry, no matter if it’s based on religion or skin color. I hope the media covers it as such.
CHARLES adds: I will save David the trouble of noting that he called this in July 2006.