"In Defense of Mitt Romney? Absurd!"

This guest post was cross-posted from the We Believe in America blog.

You’ve heard the narrative. It goes something like this: “Why should I vote for Mitt Romney? Why would ANY Tea Party-loving Conservative Republican ever vote for Mitt Romney? Haven’t you heard?

Mitt Romney isn’t a Conservative. Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper. Mitt Romney isn’t genuine. Mitt Romney is an elitist who doesn’t understand the challenges of the average American. Mitt Romney isn’t ‘one of us.’ He’s a RINO. Mitt Romney is ‘the establishment’ candidate. Mitt Romney is ‘Obama-lite.’ Romneycare=Obamacare. Mitt Romney used to be pro-choice. Mitt Romney doesn’t connect to the voters. Mitt Romney is robotic. Mitt Romney just seems ‘too polished.’ Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and ‘Mormonism is a cult.’ Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected and I don’t trust him.”

I’m reminded of a quote I read some years ago from Wendell Berry’s essay entitled “In Defense of Literacy.” May I use it for my purposes: “It may seem absurd to offer a defense of [Mitt Romney], and yet I believe that such a defense is in order, and that the absurdity lies not in the defense, but in the necessity for it” (emphasis added).

I’ll dispense with policy wonkish discussions, and dismiss hashed out, re-hashed out, and—frankly—tired, though regularly regurgitated media narratives designed to create a campaign horse race so as to therefore have something to report on.

Here’s why you should vote for Mitt Romney: because he will make an exceptional President of the United States. It’s that simple. He’s Presidential. Not in appearance only (which, by the way, I can’t ever get anybody to define what “Presidential” looks like), but in substance, and character, and competence. He is a living, breathing example of American exceptionalism. And not least because, in the words of Governor Chris Christie, “He’s gonna win!” He will—pardon the reference—be America’s Gold Medal.

So, let’s run down the list: (more…)

Baptist Pastor Says Mormonism is a Cult, Perry Campaign Spinning Like a Top

I’ve been hearing ‘spin’ on Rick Perry’s response to Baptist Pastor Robert Jefress’ introduction of him at the Values Voter Summit and his “Mormonism is a cult” comments.

What was initially reported on Friday (Oct 7th) differs from the quote I’ve heard the media air for the last two days:

Perry campaign spokesman, Mark Miner, emailed Perry’s response to FOX News: “The governor doesn’t agree with every single issue with everyone he knows or supports his candidacy. He is running for president to get our economy back on track and create jobs. Those are the real issues that matter to people.”

I appreciated reading Jennifer Rubin’s article yesterday in the Washington Post. She sets the record straight:

Religious bigotry on display

But the big news was not the vote itself [at the Values Voter Summit]. On Friday, the appearance of Pastor Robert Jeffress set of a chain of events that may be remembered long after the vote results are forgotten. Jeffress in his introduction of Perry voiced his previously known anti-Mormon views. Afterward, he doubled down in remarks to reporters. First the speech:

Do we want a candidate who is skilled in rhetoric or one who is skilled in leadership? Do we want a candidate who is a conservative out of convenience or one who is a conservative out of deep conviction? Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person — or one who is a born-again follower of the lord Jesus Christ?”

Then he told Politico:

Texas evangelical leader Robert Jeffress, the megachurch pastor who introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, said . . .he does not believe Mitt Romney is a Christian.

Jeffress described Romney’s Mormon faith as a “cult” and said evangelicals had only one real option in the 2012 primaries.

“That is a mainstream view, that Mormonism is a cult,” Jeffress told reporters here. “Every true, born-again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian.”

Asked by Politico if he believed Romney is a Christian, Jeffress answered: “No.”

The Christian leader warned that in a general-election race between Romney and Obama, he believes many evangelicals will stay home and leave the GOP nominee without their votes.

Remember, Rick Perry did not distance himself from the pastor’s introduction. Instead, he thanked the Baptist Pastor for a “very powerful introduction” and added “he knocked it out of the ballpark.”

Rubin continues…

The initial response by the Perry team was pathetically insufficient. Perry spokesman Mark Miner threw out this bit of moral vacuity: “The governor doesn’t judge what is in the heart and soul of others.” But what about the words? Is he mute on expressions of overt prejudice? Does he reject the comments as bigoted? Miner e-mailed me on Friday afternoon: “As I said, the governor does not believe Mormonism is a cult. [*Said? That isn't what he originally said.] The governor doesn’t get into the business of judging other people’s hearts or souls. He leaves that to God. The governor’s campaign is about uniting Americans of all backgrounds behind a pro-growth, jobs agenda for this country.” In other words, when presented with such overt prejudice (and the potential loss of evangelical support), Perry went mute. While Perry did not select Jeffress to introduce him, he did approve the choice.

Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, on Friday afternoon, tweeted: “A number of my close personal friends are Mormon. I find Pastor Robert Jeffries’s intro of Gov. Perry totally offensive and repugnant.” That was the voice of moral clarity sadly missing from Perry’s response.

(*My emphasis and insert)

An interesting note… Shortly before Perry entered the presidential race, he organized a controversial day of prayer in Texas in which about 20,000 people attended. Guess who helped him? Jefress.

A spokesman for the Perry campaign was quick to point out that conference organizers chose Jefress to introduce Perry at the VVS. As Nate pointed out in his article, Dallas-based Jefress’ reputation was well known. And, as Rubin stated, Perry approved Jeffress’ introduction. Too cozy by half…

Perry laid the religion egg. For appearance sake, looks like he is now sauntering away from it. Behind the scenes, some think he is tending the incubator:

Scott McLean, a political scientist at Quinnipiac University and presidential election analyst, told FoxNews.com that he believes the Perry campaign orchestrated Jeffress’ attack on Romney’s faith “to test the waters.” He said he expects Perry surrogates to launch more under-the-radar attacks on Romney’s faith to make Romney look less attractive.

We’ll hear more about this issue Tuesday night at the presidential debate. Whrrrrrrr…

Have other GOP candidates risen to Governor Romney’s defense?