So let me get this straight. One pastor mentions the “M” word (Mormonism) and all of a sudden the Mitt Romney/Mormonism story is back in the headlines. Oy-gevalt.
First of all, Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Perry supporter didn’t help his man at all. Now Perry has to deny Mormonism is a cult, which may hurt Perry with some of his base.
Plus, the last thing Perry needs is for some undecided, non-evangelical independents in early primary states to start thinking that Perry is surrounding himself with people who believe like Jeffress. There’s no political upside here whatsoever for Perry.
As for Romney and the Mormonism question, my sense is things are probably different this time around.
In 2008, he was “vetted” on this, gave a speech about it and the economy wasn’t the entire story. Today, in 2012 it’s all about the economy and Romney is running as, “Mr. Fix It” and he’s shown to be extremely adept during all the debates.
His knowledge on economic issues is robust and he’s also a better candidate than in 2008, making hardly any mistakes. All of that could carry the day.
Having said that, there is an undeniable reality to all of this and it lies in the numbers. There a certain segment of evangelicals who simply won’t vote for a Mormon. To make matters worse, many of these folks live in Iowa and South Carolina, which puts Romney at a severe disadvantage.
It’s not easy to win the nomination when you spot evangelical candidates a lead in the race for a pool of voters. So there’s always going to be work to be done in Romney’s camp.
The way The Brody File sees it, Florida is absolutely critical to Romney’s chances. If he can win New Hampshire, Nevada, and then Florida, the party will begin to galvanize around him and it will begin to feel like the train is leaving the station.
Then when Super Tuesday comes (read: lots of southern states), his Mormonism probably won’t hurt him as much because he will be seen as the eventual nominee. It will be seen mostly as an afterthought.
On the other hand, if one of the other candidates wins Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, then Romney’s in trouble heading into the deep South where his Mormonism will become more of an issue.
I can tell you this. My sense is I think this time around you will actually see more evangelical leaders step up and defend Romney on this issue, citing the fact that America is not electing a pope or a Theologian in Chief.
Whatever you think about the Mormon issue, one fact cannot be disputed. Romney has been the most solid candidate so far throughout this process.
Will it be enough? Check back in early February.