Meanwhile, Romney’s Mormon faith always seemed like a bigger problem to some obsessed media commentators than it did to ordinary voters. In primary after primary, Mitt actually performed better among self-described Evangelical Christians (supposedly consumed by anti-Mormon bigotry) than he did among non-Evangelicals. In general, voters and the press pay little attention to the religious faith of Vice Presidents or Vice Presidential candidates (with Joe Lieberman’s exotic special case the obvious exception). Consider, for instance, that only three Catholics have ever won nomination as Presidential candidates by a major party (Al Smith in ’28, JFK in ’60, John Kerry in ’04). But numerous Veep contenders have been Catholic-- Bill Miller in ’64, Ed Muskie in ’68, Tom Eagleton and Sergeant Shriver in ’72, Geraldine Ferraro in 84—with scant attention to their faith by the public at large. Moreover, Romney’s deft handling of the religious question at his justly famous speech at the Bush Library in Texas makes it unlikely that his devout LDS commitment would count against him in any serious way.
According to Fred Barnes, the main drawback to a Romney candidacy involves the obvious fact that McCain doesn’t like him. But for the sake of party unity and victory, that discomfort could be disregarded or overcome—as JFK overcame similar discomfort to choose Lyndon Johnson. In any event, Mitt’s controversial skills at pandering should help him smooth over past misunderstandings, and show McCain as a more warm-hearted, forgiving leader than the angry, hot-tempered meanie of hostile caricature.
I’m not yet ready to endorse Mitt Romney as the ultimate choice for second spot on the ticket, but it’s increasingly obvious that he deserves the most serious consideration. For one thing, his experience in all those annoying Republican debates (in which Romney’s performance steadily, inexorably improved) gives him a huge advantage over any Democrat in the single, fateful Vice Presidential debate scheduled for this fall.
With the Democrats increasingly unlikely to field either a Clinton-Obama combo (he won’t take it) or an Obama-Clinton team (he won’t offer it), a McCain-Romney partnership would highlight the relative unity in GOP ranks.
In that context, Mac-and-Mitt sounds more and more like it could be a winning ticket for the party and the country.