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?”

and:

“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.

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Ankle Biting Pundits » Blog Archive » Romney Train Wreck Roundup · December 9, 2006 at 1:29 PM

[…] Eye on ’08 points out the disparaging quotes from social conservatives. […]

eyeon08.com » Romney’s change in position sets in · December 10, 2006 at 4:58 PM

[…] eyeon08.com Watching the 2008 pre-election « Romney’s real problem with the Log Cabin letter […]

eyeon08.com » Romney responds to Log Cabin letter criticism · December 11, 2006 at 3:18 PM

[…] Mitt Romney’s nascent campaign is beginning to respond to questions (here, here, and here) raised about a letter that he sent to the Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans back in 1994. David Brody, from the Christian Broadcasting Network, got a response from the Romney press operation: Governor Romney believes Americans should be respectful of all people. Over the past four years as governor, Mitt Romney has not implemented new or special rights in this area and he has not advocated or supported any change in the military’s policies. As governor, he’s been a champion of traditional marriage. He’s fought the efforts of activist judges who seek to redefine marriage, and he’s testified before the U.S. Senate in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Governor Romney has been a leader in protecting marriage and in focusing this debate on the needs of children. […]

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