As a mormon, I think Mitt Romney’s presidential run will be interesting to run.  I’m still not sure if i’d vote for him–it depends on who else is in the race, but  

Mitt Romney’s Problem(from the economist)

Religious prejudice may yet undo the Republicans’ latest favourite
Mitt Romney’s Problem

YOU can say what you want against American politics. You can call it
corrupt, vulgar, interminable, and boringly limited to two behemoth
parties. But you cannot accuse it of lacking in drama. The mid-term
elections are still a month away, but some of the most intriguing
action is taking place in the race for the presidency. Mitt Romney,
the governor of Massachusetts, is making a concerted bid to seize
the mantle as the leader of “the Republican wing of the Republican
Party”.

Mr Romney is a scarily perfect presidential candidate. He has
handsome looks—a mixture of Ronald Reagan and JFK, according to fans—
and fearsome intelligence. He graduated from both Harvard Law
School, cum laude, and Harvard Business School in the top 5% of his
class. He is a Republican governor of liberal Taxachusetts, a sprig
of a powerful mid-western political dynasty, and is much admired as
a businessman. But Mitt has one big problem: Mormonism. Hence one of
the liveliest debates on the right: can a Mormon win the presidency?

Two years before a presidential election might seem a bit soon for
such questions. But this is the age of the “permanent campaign”. And
the Republicans have a habit of anointing their champion as early as
possible: George Bush had the nomination locked up by the late
1990s. John McCain has made a good job of turning himself into the
party’s heir presumptive. But now Mr Romney is mounting a powerful
assault from the right.

On September 22nd he delighted 1,800 “values voters” gathered in
Washington, DC, with a barn-storming defence of traditional marriage
and patriotism. He has vocally defended Mr Bush’s policies on the
interrogation of suspected terrorists, and suggested that the
authorities should spend more time monitoring mosques. For a growing
number of conservatives he is the answer to their prayers: a man who
can not only derail the McCain Express but also hold the White House
in 2008.

Mr Romney’s emergence as a conservative champion owes something to
luck. His two biggest rivals on the right have imploded: Bill Frist
because of his lacklustre performance as Senate majority leader,
George Allen because of his gaffe-ridden Senate campaign. But it
owes more to years of investment. Mr Romney has not only fought
harder than any other governor on “social issues”, particularly gay
marriage. He has done so in the heart of enemy territory.

Mr Romney won the governorship of a state where only 13% of the
voters are registered Republicans, and where the congressional
delegation is 100% Democratic. And he succeeded in working with a
legislature where 87% of the members represent the other party. When
he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he found a $3
billion budget deficit; two years later he was running a surplus of
more than $700m.

His hallmark before his recent fire-breathing reincarnation was
pragmatism and competence. He founded Bain Capital, one of the
country’s most successful venture-capital companies. He was at the
heart of two dramatic turnarounds, first of Bain & Co (which was on
the verge of going under when he was brought in as CEO) and then of
the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (which threatened to
collapse under the weight of bribery scandals and $400m-worth of
debt). As governor of Massachusetts, he produced an eye-catching
health-care reform that tries to use market mechanisms to solve the
most pressing problem, lack of coverage for the uninsured.

Yet Mr Romney is a devoted Mormon—a former bishop, no less—at a time
when religion is playing a growing role in American politics.
Opinion polls suggest that anti-Mormon feeling is one of the most
enduring religious prejudices in America. An LATimes/Bloomberg poll
in June found that 37% of Americans would not vote for a Mormon
presidential candidate; other polls put the figure at 17%.

Anti-Mormon feeling is particularly strong among Bible-believing
Christians, a vital part of the Republican base. Many evangelicals
regard Mormonism as nothing more than a cult: and a cult, moreover,
that is based not only on a false theology but also on a willingness
to tamper with the inerrant word of God that is the Bible.

Looking past Mormonism
So will the whiz-kid governor be doomed by the Book of Mormon? Not
necessarily. That 37% is certainly not an encouraging figure. But
back in 1960 35% of people told pollsters that they would have
qualms about voting for a Catholic, and in that year a Catholic
reached the White House. Today, 21% of people say they would have
qualms about voting for an evangelical; time may tell differently.
For most voters, religion is just one factor among many that they
consider: there is a difference between rejecting a generic Mormon
and rejecting a smooth operator with a plan for universal health
insurance.

As for evangelical Christians, they can be a remarkably pragmatic
bunch. They have spent the past few decades building alliances
with “people of faith” whom they once regarded as spawn of the
devil. And they know a winner when they see one: they happily
forgave Reagan his divorce and eccentric theological views. In an
ideal world they might prefer a more orthodox man of faith. But if
it comes to a choice between Mr Romney and a maverick like Mr McCain
or an avowed social liberal like Rudy Giuliani, they may be willing
to swallow the Book of Mormon.

Mr Romney’s opponents may well find other weaknesses to exploit. He
is a somewhat bloodless candidate, a conservative of the head rather
than the heart, and approaches presidential politics rather like a
Harvard Business School case study. First, prove that he can run a
state; then lock up the conservative base; then pivot back to the
centre . But for the moment at least it seems that conservative
Republicans have found their man for 2008.

Copyright © 2006 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group.
All rights reserved.

YOU can say what you want against American politics. You can call it
corrupt, vulgar, interminable, and boringly limited to two behemoth
parties. But you cannot accuse it of lacking in drama. The mid-term
elections are still a month away, but some of the most intriguing
action is taking place in the race for the presidency. Mitt Romney,
the governor of Massachusetts, is making a concerted bid to seize
the mantle as the leader of “the Republican wing of the Republican
Party”.

Mr Romney is a scarily perfect presidential candidate. He has
handsome looks—a mixture of Ronald Reagan and JFK, according to fans—
and fearsome intelligence. He graduated from both Harvard Law
School, cum laude, and Harvard Business School in the top 5% of his
class. He is a Republican governor of liberal Taxachusetts, a sprig
of a powerful mid-western political dynasty, and is much admired as
a businessman. But Mitt has one big problem: Mormonism. Hence one of
the liveliest debates on the right: can a Mormon win the presidency?

Two years before a presidential election might seem a bit soon for
such questions. But this is the age of the “permanent campaign”. And
the Republicans have a habit of anointing their champion as early as
possible: George Bush had the nomination locked up by the late
1990s. John McCain has made a good job of turning himself into the
party’s heir presumptive. But now Mr Romney is mounting a powerful
assault from the right.

On September 22nd he delighted 1,800 “values voters” gathered in
Washington, DC, with a barn-storming defence of traditional marriage
and patriotism. He has vocally defended Mr Bush’s policies on the
interrogation of suspected terrorists, and suggested that the
authorities should spend more time monitoring mosques. For a growing
number of conservatives he is the answer to their prayers: a man who
can not only derail the McCain Express but also hold the White House
in 2008.

Mr Romney’s emergence as a conservative champion owes something to
luck. His two biggest rivals on the right have imploded: Bill Frist
because of his lacklustre performance as Senate majority leader,
George Allen because of his gaffe-ridden Senate campaign. But it
owes more to years of investment. Mr Romney has not only fought
harder than any other governor on “social issues”, particularly gay
marriage. He has done so in the heart of enemy territory.

Mr Romney won the governorship of a state where only 13% of the
voters are registered Republicans, and where the congressional
delegation is 100% Democratic. And he succeeded in working with a
legislature where 87% of the members represent the other party. When
he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he found a $3
billion budget deficit; two years later he was running a surplus of
more than $700m.

His hallmark before his recent fire-breathing reincarnation was
pragmatism and competence. He founded Bain Capital, one of the
country’s most successful venture-capital companies. He was at the
heart of two dramatic turnarounds, first of Bain & Co (which was on
the verge of going under when he was brought in as CEO) and then of
the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (which threatened to
collapse under the weight of bribery scandals and $400m-worth of
debt). As governor of Massachusetts, he produced an eye-catching
health-care reform that tries to use market mechanisms to solve the
most pressing problem, lack of coverage for the uninsured.

Yet Mr Romney is a devoted Mormon—a former bishop, no less—at a time
when religion is playing a growing role in American politics.
Opinion polls suggest that anti-Mormon feeling is one of the most
enduring religious prejudices in America. An LATimes/Bloomberg poll
in June found that 37% of Americans would not vote for a Mormon
presidential candidate; other polls put the figure at 17%.

Anti-Mormon feeling is particularly strong among Bible-believing
Christians, a vital part of the Republican base. Many evangelicals
regard Mormonism as nothing more than a cult: and a cult, moreover,
that is based not only on a false theology but also on a willingness
to tamper with the inerrant word of God that is the Bible.

Looking past Mormonism
So will the whiz-kid governor be doomed by the Book of Mormon? Not
necessarily. That 37% is certainly not an encouraging figure. But
back in 1960 35% of people told pollsters that they would have
qualms about voting for a Catholic, and in that year a Catholic
reached the White House. Today, 21% of people say they would have
qualms about voting for an evangelical; time may tell differently.
For most voters, religion is just one factor among many that they
consider: there is a difference between rejecting a generic Mormon
and rejecting a smooth operator with a plan for universal health
insurance.

As for evangelical Christians, they can be a remarkably pragmatic
bunch. They have spent the past few decades building alliances
with “people of faith” whom they once regarded as spawn of the
devil. And they know a winner when they see one: they happily
forgave Reagan his divorce and eccentric theological views. In an
ideal world they might prefer a more orthodox man of faith. But if
it comes to a choice between Mr Romney and a maverick like Mr McCain
or an avowed social liberal like Rudy Giuliani, they may be willing
to swallow the Book of Mormon.

Mr Romney’s opponents may well find other weaknesses to exploit. He
is a somewhat bloodless candidate, a conservative of the head rather
than the heart, and approaches presidential politics rather like a
Harvard Business School case study. First, prove that he can run a
state; then lock up the conservative base; then pivot back to the
centre . But for the moment at least it seems that conservative
Republicans have found their man for 2008.

Copyright © 2006 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group.
All rights reserved.