When Mitt Romney ran for President in 2008, he worked hard to win the support of religious conservatives but met with mixed success. While he did pick up the support of a handful of Religious Right leaders, he found himself constantly facing skepticism from many more because of his Mormon faith.
Well, according to Romney insiders, if he makes another run for the White House in 2012, he’s not going to bother trying to win over the religious bigots who are uncomfortable with his faith and will instead focus on “his experience as a business leader and familiarity with economic issues”:
Mitt Romney and his strategists expected his Mormon faith to fade as an issue for fundamentalist Christians during his first presidential campaign. This time around, should he choose to run again, they have doubts.
The idea during the 2008 campaign was that exposure to the candidate himself — a likable, teetotaling family man — would help convince people that there was nothing to fear in his beliefs. But even as the national Republican establishment warms to Romney as never before, the former candidate and his closest aides now believe a group of voters will always be off-limits because of his religion.
“There are some people for whom it will not be settled,’’ Romney said in a recent interview. “That’s just the nature of who we are as a people: A lot of people have differing views.’’
That acknowledgment is just one part of a growing consensus within Romney’s circle that his 2008 campaign’s almost obsessive focus on winning over social conservatives was not only unsuited to his strengths as a candidate, but strategically misguided.
“You’re not really going to alter your main message to accommodate this tiny group,’’ said Carl Forti, who served as the campaign’s national political director. “You’re going to acknowledge that there’s this small group of people and move on.’’
Of course, the last time around it was the Religious Right’s distrust of his faith and his commitment to their social agenda that Romney was explicitly attempting to overcome, ultimately without success.
And those questions still remain, so it is hard to see how Romney expects to win the nomination next time by explicitly avoiding those topic.