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Tuesday, October 2, 2007
posted by jason | 9:57 AM | permalink
We are pleased to offer this guest post by Michael Bush. Michael was a friend of Mitt's in France, while they both were serving as LDS Missionaries. Michael was also interviewed for the recent Newsweek article on Mitt Romney.

I found something vaguely familiar as I read the Newsweek story, “Mitt’s Mission,” that appears in the October 8, 2007 issue, which appeared online yesterday:

Unfortunately, the politician Romney has been chiefly interested in organizing and packaging himself into is a man who seems to have no history, and, as a result, no heart.

Although there are things to like about the article, it left me with a feeling of uneasiness, in part because I was misquoted about Mitt’s phone calls to Ann during the mission years in France: “He persuaded his father to send him extra money so he could call her.” While this is admittedly not a major issue, that is not what I said. I knew that Mitt was in love with Ann and he had told me that his dad had granted him permission to call her monthly. This is what I recollect, although a missionary companion is quoted as saying it was every other week. Perhaps the writers heard from someone else that Mitt needed to “persuade” his father to send extra money, but it was not from me. In fact, knowing how much Mitt’s dad liked Ann, I am not convinced that any persuading was necessary at all.

Furthermore, my experience is that it would be an exaggeration to say that Mitt was “pining” for Ann, as stated in the article. Mitt was focused and hardworking, not often attributes for someone who is “pining.” Indeed, the “pining” description is at odds with the article’s recognition of his dedication: “The local mission office kept records to quantify missionaries' success, and Romney was a top performer.” This is evident not only from those records that I provided from my mission memorabilia, but also from the briefest of conversations one could have with anyone that knew Mitt in France.

With that in mind and puzzling over what I felt was a familiar tone in the article, I searched for a piece in Newsweek early this year that I had found more than irritating, especially given that I have known Mitt for over 40 years. Running in the February 26, 2007 issue, that article began:

There is something a little too good to be true about Mitt Romney. … As a candidate, he can appear slightly overproduced, a little too smooth for the hurly-burly of the hustings.”

According to the bylines on the two articles, the first author on both pieces is Jonathan Darman, “Senior Writer and Political Correspondent” at Newsweek.

The bad news is that this reporting seems it could be driven by a particular template: Mitt could be “too good to be true,” “packaged,” “plastic,” and perhaps even a “secret extremist,” etc. (all words that appear in these two pieces, albeit not necessarily attributed to the reporters). The good news is that the latest piece, despite some of its innuendo and false assertions, actually uses some positive commentary that reflects reality:

In fairness, it is true that Romney has the stuff of great presidents somewhere inside him. The making of Mitt Romney included the development of skills any leader would find invaluable—a strong work ethic, an insistence on sacrifice and a reverence for those who put the principles of humanity over the conveniences of the moment.

Could this represent progress in efforts to get the story right?
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Whew, let’s all just calm down. There is no reason for Romney’s “JFK” religion speech. Not yet.

While liberal pundits, the media, and a few Giulianiacs (read Novak) in New York are fixated on Romney’s religion, very few national evangelical leaders oppose Romney on religious grounds. For obvious reasons Catholic and Jewish leaders are rather adamant that there be no religious issue concerning Romney and the 2008 presidential race.

The loudest objections come from the left. Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate, said, "Romney's religion will become an issue with moderate and secular voters - and rightly so." His justification comes from a rather strained reasoning that objecting to one’s “religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage . . .”

What? Late last year Romney met with the prominent evangelical leaders. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall! From the few remarks made by some of the attendees, that meeting must have gone quite well.

Says Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, "Evangelicals know that they're not electing a theologian in chief, but a commander in chief. If they agree with Romney on social issues, his Mormonism won't be a hindrance . . ." And Jerry Falwell, who has often spoken in unflattering terms about Mormons said, "There's no question that there are strong feelings about Mormonism. But we're not electing a Sunday school teacher; we're electing a president. I do not believe his church affiliation will hinder his being a viable candidate among evangelicals."

So just who are these 24 percent of Americans (not 29 percent as reported by Novak.) who would not vote for a Mormon? see
Well, certainly many are liberal and/or secular. In the same poll 14 percent said they would not vote for a woman, 64 percent said no to an Atheist. Even more telling is what Novak did not reveal.

In the same poll 68 percent of Americans said they had a favorable opinion of Mitt Romney while only 13 percent did not. Gee, I wonder what Hillary’s numbers would be.

So everybody, just take a deep breath. Go to and see the results for yourselves. After Mitt has secured the nomination there will be plenty of time for The Speech.

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