The EFM Feature

David Frum argues that Romney has an “evangelical problem” (in part) because there are no Mormons among the original 150 signers of the Manhattan Declaration, which affirms the cultural, political, and legal importance of life, religious liberty, and the family to our nation. I’m one of the now (as of this morning) 189,000 signers of the Declaration, and I don’t doubt that some of those signatories are Mormon (there are certainly no religious restrictions on signing), but to argue that Mitt has an “evangelical problem” because there are no Mormons amongst the original signers of a declaration that originated within the evangelical and Catholic communities is a bit of a stretch.
The reality is that Governor Romney does have an “evangelical problem,” and that problem is named Mike Huckabee. Just as Jesse Jackson vacuumed up the vast majority of black voters in his runs for the presidency, so Mike Huckabee vacuums up the majority of evangelicals. In 2012, the “evangelical problem” might be named “Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin” as those two (quite different) politicians battle it out for a key Republican voting bloc.
But here’s why I’m not overly concerned. First, because Mitt Romney respects evangelical voters and upholds and defends their values, evangelicals won’t face what they faced in 2008 — a nominee who had historically shown contempt for them and for their role in the party. Second, Mitt may not win the evangelical vote in the primaries, but he’ll get a respectable share — particularly of those who are as concerned about economic and national security issues as they are about life and marriage. Third, there’s a vast swath of Republican voters who are not “evangelical” but for whom core values are vitally important (along with other issues). Romney is poised to win this group. They don’t trust Huckabee’s economic liberalism, nor do they feel that Palin has the necessary experience.
As for the Manhattan Declaration, it’s an important document, but the presence or absence of Mormons amongst the original signatories is irrelevant for 2012.


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