As a candidate, he can appear slightly overproduced, a little too smooth for the hurly-burly of the hustings. Lately, Romney has been courting the evangelical vote, key to winning Republican primaries. He knows that some evangelicals regard his religion, Mormonism, as heresy (according to the National Journal, more than a quarter of self-identified evangelicals tell pollsters that they won’t vote for a Mormon). So last week, at a lackluster rally in the Bible belt of South Carolina where maybe 300 people half-filled an auditorium, Romney was trying, a bit unctuously, to show his down-home piety. As the crowd trickled out, Romney, his voice still at full decibel from his stump speech, grabbed the hand of state Rep. Bob Leach, a Baptist. “This man,” proclaimed Romney, “his prayers bring down the power of the Lord!” ~Jonathan Darman and Evan Thomas, Newsweek
Bob Leach must offer up some pretty impressive prayers. So here’s a good example of what’s wrong with Romney. He doesn’t just pander. He panders really badly. This is the religious version of “some of my best friends are…” The thing is that you don’t get to play the diversity card when some old guy heckles you in Florida for being a “pretender” and then turn around and talk about how your political ally calls down the power of the Lord. You don’t get to gin up the crowd with that old-time religion and in the same breath say, “We are blessed to have many persuasions and faiths in our great land!” Something’s got to give.