For two reasons, religious issues should prove less damaging to the 2012 presidential candidacy of Ambassador Jon Huntsman than they were for his fellow Mormon Mitt Romney in 2008.
With two Mormons in the race, the novelty factor is diminished and opponents won’t be able to focus anti-LDS sentiments on a single candidate. Moreover, Romney’s previous run depended on conservative Christians in his expected competition with moderates Giuliani and McCain, but Mike Huckabee’s surprising rise appealed directly to religious voters wary of his rival’s Mormonism. This time, former Utah Governor Huntsman will bid for centrist support against more conservative candidates, going after voters less likely to worry over social issues or LDS theology. He’ll face problems with his service as China Ambassador under Obama, and with some of his moderate positions, but his Mormon faith will prove a less formidable obstacle to his campaign.