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Thursday, February 8, 2007
posted by Justin Hart | 7:51 AM | permalink
Boston, MA – Today, Governor Mitt Romney announced that U.S. Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Larry Craig (R-ID) will serve as Co-Senate Liaisons for the Romney for President Exploratory Committee. As Liaisons, they will lead Governor Romney's outreach efforts to their fellow Senators.

"It is an honor to have the support and leadership in the United States Senate of Senator Bennett and Senator Craig. Throughout their years of service, they have compiled strong conservative records and have accomplished much for the people of their states and their nation," said Governor Romney. "Both men have a unique perspective of the new generation of challenges confronting our nation. I look forward to working with them to find the solutions needed to ensure that our country remains a strong world leader."

Background On Governor Romney's Co-Senate Liaisons:

Senator Bob Bennet, Mitt Romney for PresidentSenator Bob Bennett Is Serving His Third Term In The United States Senate. Re-elected to a third term in 2004, Senator Bennett has served the people of Utah with distinction for over 14 years. As counsel to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Bennett is an integral part of the Republican leadership team advising the leader on legislative strategy and policy priorities. A senior member of the Senate Banking Committee and Joint Economic Committee, he is at the center of national economic policy discussions. Senator Bennett also serves on the powerful Senate Appropriations and Rules Committees. Prior to his election in 1992, Bennett was chief executive officer of the Franklin International Institute.

Senator Larry Craig, Mitt Romney for President Senator Craig was the youngest person ever to serve as Chairman of the Steering Committee, a legislative action group for Senate conservatives. He also was Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and is currently the Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Senator Craig has been recognized by several national groups for his record of promoting fiscal discipline. Outside the Senate, he sits on the National Rifle Association's Board of Directors. Prior to his time in the Senate, Senator Craig served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Idaho State Senate.

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6 Comments:


Here you have two guys who are all about getting it done and not about lining us appearances on the Sunday talk shows. This reflects well on the Romney campaign.



I think that Mitt Romney was smart to give Senator Jim DeMint a key role in his campaign. Senator Craig is also a good fit, but I don't know if he wants to put Senator Bennett in a such a high-profile role right now. The fact that Bennett shares Romney's LDS faith may make it seem to some that Bennett is too naturally sympathetic to the Romney Campaign or breaking "the Mormon Presidential barrier" and might cause some questions. It would be better for Romney to try and recruit the support of Republicans from as many backgrounds as possible, especially Conservative Republicans, and have Bennett and possibly Senators Mike Crapo and Orrin Hatch play back-seat roles if they are going to support their coreligionist. With all of the work that Romney and the LDS Church have had to do to placate fears that his run is supported by the hierarchy of the Mormon Church, giving one of his Mormon comrades in the Senate a key role so early might do the exact opposite.

I guess on the bright side for Romney, he can point to the fact that two Mormons in Congress, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon and Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona, have endorsed John McCain's candidacy (if there is ever a bright side to emphasizing support for one’s opponent). That, plus I'm pretty dang sure that Harry Reid will not endorse Romney, so it shows that Mormons tend to think more independently than they are given credit.

Romney does not need to run away from being a Mormon. To the contrary, he can use the fact that he is a “devout” follower of the Church of Jesus Christ to his advantage. It gives his candidacy uniqueness and a natural voting and fundraising base. But he needs to do everything possible to stay away from looking like he is supported by the religious institution itself.

There might even be some areas where he can offer constructive criticisms, when appropriate, of the Mormon Church. This would all depend on timing, but one such example of this might be asking why it was the Mormon Church's responsibility to get involved in Salt Lake City zoning codes that disallowed private businesses like Nordstrom's from moving away from a shopping mall that was owned by the Church. Romney could show his Reaganesque bon-e-fides by saying that he believes that such restrictions on good businesses are un-American and contrary to the freedoms that we all hold dear. The rights of businesses should not be restricted in such ways. This would probably open up a whole new can of worms when it comes to fighting unfair zoning restrictions on businesses throughout the United States. But it’s just an idea on how Romney could show that he’s his own man without contradicting Church doctrine.

My guess is that the more Romney’s campaign looks legitimate, the more he is going to have to answer questions like this anyway, so he can already have his responses ready for such questions, because they will come. It might be good for Romney to gather together a list of issues where he can put just enough distance between himself and any controversial, yet non-religiously-based, political positions held by the Mormon Church. Of course, this would have to be done with tact and it might seem difficult and a sensitive matter for Romney and the Church itself if he is forced to criticize it. But there are ways of criticizing institutions and people without completely discrediting them.



Very well put, Dave. I agree 100%. And in fact, in the NYT article mentioned below, Romney quells fears that the Church dictates the politics of its people by mentioning Reid--that he and Reid share the same faith and yet hold very different political views. As far as religious influence goes, the best thing Romney can do now is focus on groups like Evangelicals for Mitt and try to gain more support in the South.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 8, 2007 at 7:29 PM  


206iscancer:

Larry Craig is a Mormon as well, actually.

I don't have any problem with them coming on board, none at all, but I think it would have been wiser to announce them when a non-Mormon Senator signed on as well. I know he's already got DeMint, but this does look too much like a "Mormon coronation", even if it's not, because, as you pointed out, Flake and Smith have endorsed McCain.



Cliff-

That might come as quite a surprise to Senator Craig. Idaho's Junior Senator Mike Crapo is a Mormon, but from what I can tell Senator Craig still considers himself to be a Methodist (unless he recently converted to Mormonism or you have some inside knowledge that Craig is secretly a Mormon or something). That would be quite funny, because most Mormons I know are proud of their religion. I hate using Wikipedia as a source, but it's quick and definitely has Craig listed as a Methodist. Craig would have probably had Wikipedia change this by now if it weren't true. There are currently 5 Mormon US Senators, the two from Utah, Mike Crapo from Idaho, Gordon Smith of Oregon, and Harry Reid is the lone Mormon Democrat in the Senate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larjy_Craig



Correction:

Harry Reid is the lone mormon Democrat.




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