That, Governor Romney claimed in front of the Republican Jewish Coalition, is the question voters want answered–not “What’s your view of the Trinity?” Via ABC:
Upon taking questions, Romney was asked about his Mormon religion and why it “scares people so badly.” Romney injected some levity to the question of his religion saying, “I’m probably the wrong guy to ask. But my neighbors might know.”
Romney responded by suggesting that evangelicals were open to his candidacy, and began to say that he was either in the lead or tied for the lead in, “Iowa and New Hampshire and Michigan and South Carolina and Nevada,” before he had to stop and backtrack, saying, “uh, not in South Carolina. But my own polls show me good. Of course I make them up.”
He also suggested that he was looking for the support of Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Romney stated that Dobson had said he couldn’t vote for Giuliani or McCain or Thompson, and that “well that sort of left one guy left standing.”
After a follow up, Romney said that while there are those who say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon candidate, polls also showed some people wouldn’t vote for a candidate over 70 and others who wouldn’t vote for someone who had been divorced many times, but that “those things are at their mind. At the front of their mind, they want to know who can lead America.”
Philip Klein over at The American Spectator thought it was odd that the RJC spent so much time on this topic. I must admit–in my experience, it isn’t odd. I’ve actually been part of more than a few discussions among conservative (politically, not necessarily religiously) Jews regarding Governor Romney, and I’ve noticed a great deal of interest in the religious issue. Near as I can tell, it has to do with two main factors. First, they don’t seem to get what the fuss is all about, not being privy to all the jockeying that goes on among denominations within evangelical Christianity, let along between evangelicals and others. Second, given their lack of familiarity with the disputes involved, they aren’t sure whether the “Mormon issue” will be fatal to Governor Romney’s candidacy. That combination of factors, I think, makes it a logical thing for a pragmatic person to ask about. And it seems to me that Governor Romney answered it well.