Mitt’s Muslim Mess: The larger problem

UPDATE: TPM has another source. This is getting bad for Romney.

Yesterday, the blogosphere was all up in a tizzy about a Christian Science Monitor op-ed piece that claims that Mitt Romney said he would not pick a Muslim for the Cabinet because there aren’t enough Muslims. Naturally, the Romney campaign denied. It seemed that the story was going to be tied to Romney’s affirmative-action appointment of a judge.

However, TPM dropped a bomb. Apparently two NV GOP officials had asked a similar question several months ago and gotten a similar answer. One of them even described the comments as "racist."

Romney has two problems now. The first is that the press is not going to let up. As Marc Ambinder points out:

Answering the subject by challenging the premise and challenging the credentials of the person who made the accusations are debating techniques, but they won’t the get media to leave the story alone.

And second, as the Economist points out:

Why not simply say at the outset that prospective appointees will be treated as individuals, rather than representatives of groups?  Certainly that seems the more congenial position for a candidate who is himself a member of a minority sect.

This may open the door to a more open discussion of Romney’s religion. If he is discriminating on the basis of religion — perhaps even a wrong-but-politically-useful position in an Iowa Republican caucus — then why can’t other people drill down on his religion? Arguing "no bigotry" is a lot easier than arguing "bigotry for me but not for thee." A combination of hypocrisy and implausible repeated non-denials is good material for a feeding frenzy. At the same time as he’s getting drilled for other things. There’s a lot of bad synergy going on right now for Romney.