A bunch of conservative blogs (here and here) are talking about today’s NYT article on Romney’s Log Cabin letter (Hotline has excerpts). The real interesting point is that they NYT got conservative leaders on record warning Romney that he has a real problem on his hand:
Paul Weyrich, a founder of the modern conservative movement, said: “Unless he comes out with an abject repudiation of this, I think it makes him out to be a hypocrite. And if he totally repudiates this, you have to ask, on what grounds?”
“This is quite disturbing,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who had praised Mr. Romney as a champion of traditional values at the group’s conference in late September. “This type of information is going to create a lot of problems for Governor Romney. He is going to have a hard time overcoming this.”
(Hotline’s coverage of said conference is here)
I have argued that Romney actually wants to fight the Mormon question, because it is a dodge of the conservative question. Romney has several problems here:
- Romney’s sold himself as a conservative to leaders of the religious right, and now conservative leaders are concerned that he misled them. That is the importance of these quotes. Clearly what is happening is that people are circling back with this letter and re-evaluating and asking him questions.
- This is not the last time this will happen. There will be statements on abortion, more statements on homosexuality, etc. Each time another letter or statement comes out and gets this level of scrutiny, it is going to lower the trust of the leaders of these groups. Romney will lose credibility over time both as a conservative, but also as a leader. Republicans like leaders that don’t act on the direction of the wind. Romney will have trouble taking that stance.
- These kinds of things give cover to people anxious about "the Mormon Question". They are uncomfortable with that, but willing to tolerate it because he’s a real conservative. But now that they are not completely sure that they can trust what he says about where he is on the issues, their concerns about the religious foundations for his positions can also become an issue. As one religious leader said — and Evangelicals for Mitt quoted — “It’s not whether I could vote for a Mormon, it’s whether I could vote for this Mormon." Indeed, the question goes from, "I have concerned about trusting this man," to "I have concerns about trusting this Mormon."
Again, this question will be raised repeatedly as RightMarch goes to war against him.