Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced today that he will not be seeking a second term in office. Speculation immediately followed that the 58-year old son of former Michigan Governor George Romney will be making a run at the White House in 2008, but Romney said the decision on running for president was “down the road” and “a lifetime away.”
If Romney decides in favor of a White House run, how will his Mormonism play in Peoria (or, more accurately, Birmingham)? Can a Mormon be the standard-bearer for the Christian Right and the conservative movement against the party’s moderate wing led by John McCain and Rudy Giuliani? My instinct says yes. The political arm of the evangelical movement is more concerned with its candidates having the “right” positions on abortion, gay marriage, public education, and the separation of church and state than they are on whether a person’s personal or theological house is in order. Call me cynical, but I think that explains the movement’s loyalty to some of its morally compromised characters over the years.
With Cheney, Rice, and neither Bush brother running in 2008, the position of standard-bearer for the conservative movement stands vacant. One lucky Republican will capture this crown sometime in the next two years. That lucky Republican may in fact be Mitt Romney.