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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Mormonism

Mitt Romney 'doesn't know who he is,' claims Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper who "doesn't know who he is," Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday in Washington. 

“He was for gay marriage when he was governor. Now he’s against it. He was for abortion when he was governor. Now he’s against it. Healthcare — we modeled our bill to a large degree [on] what he did in Massachusetts. Now he’s trying to run from that. If someone doesn’t know who they are, they shouldn’t be president of the United States,” the Senate majority leader said to reporters.

"The front-runner in the Republican stakes now — here’s a man who doesn’t know who he is." 

Conservatives already may have gotten the message. According to a new Zogby poll of probable Republican voters, 24% of those polled favor Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann over the rest of the pack. Romney and businessman Herman Cain were tied for second with 15%.

Reid went on to say that he would "favor" fellow Mormon and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who today threw his hat in the ring, over Romney, who is also a Mormon.

According to the Associated Press, Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, said the campaign isn’t seeking Reid’s backing and wouldn’t accept it if it were offered.

Ouch. It's the first day of summer and things are already getting hot under the collar.


Jon Huntsman enters the GOP race

Mitt Romney surges as GOP debate season opens

Ron Paul leads Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney in Republican (book) race

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Jon Huntsman's big day, Republicans and Mormons and trouble for Utah's Orrin Hatch

Jon Huntsman and wife Mary Kaye greet a motorcycle rider in New Hampshire, 6-11

Some elected folks we know have confessed that the best day of any election campaign is the day a candidate announces. All things seem possible. Optimism reigns. The usually nattering media is attentive.

Today Jon Huntsman, who's been registering near zero on the scale of Republican name-recognition, gets his shot at the best day of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

The former Utah governor and overseas ambassador for two presidents will launch his bid in New Jersey near the Statue of Liberty and then fly up to New Hampshire to do it again in the nation's first primary state.

Wednesday Huntsman will do it a third time in South Carolina, apparently leaving Iowa to the homegrown Michele Bachmann and next-door neighbor Tim Pawlenty. It will be interesting to see how Huntsman, the only major GOP candidate with any real foreign policy experience, tries to differentiate himself from the possible candidates like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the existing field, including fellow former governor and Mormon Mitt Romney.

Speaking of Mormons, good news for Romney and Huntsman: A recent Gallup Poll found Republicans to be the political affiliation most open to supporting a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the voting booth.Utah Republican senator Orrin Hatch

Fully 80% of GOP voters said they could vote for a Mormon, while a near identical 79% of independents agreed. However, only 71% of Democrats said they could vote for a Mormon.

The biggest difference in sentiment appeared in education level, with the more educated open to a Mormon candidate and the lesser educated less so.

Speaking of Mormon candidates, at this time last year one of the most endangered politicians seeking reelection was the nation's highest-ranking Mormon, Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority Leader. As it happened, he ended up having little trouble winning a fifth term from Nevada.

Now comes word that a senior Republican senator, Orrin Hatch of next-door Utah, may be in some trouble going for a seventh term in the general election, even if he survives a primary challenge. Last year, you may recall, Utah Republicans dumped Hatch's junior colleague Robert Bennett for Mike Lee.

A poll out last weekend from the Deseret News/KSL-TV finds that 59% of Utah voters feel it's time for a change after 36 years of Hatch. In a matchup against his most likely GOP challenger, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republicans are virtually tied at 41% Chaffetz and 40% Hatch.

Even if Hatch survived that contest, the new poll finds that the man who became a senator at the end of Gerald Ford's presidency would as of now barely tie his likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Jim Matheson, at 47% apiece.


Texas Gov. Rick Perry's likely stump speech (video)

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, yes, him again, wins another GOP straw poll

First N.H. debate: A bunch of GOP colleagues get together to criticize Obama

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Brian Snyder / Reuters (Huntsman and wife Mary Kaye greet a New Hampshire voter); Associated Press (Hatch).

Happy New Year, President Obama; Your job approval's down again

Democrat president Barack Obama Golfing again in Hawaii file

The president is still on vacation today -- maybe some more left-handed golf and finishing up John LeCarre's "Our Kind of Traitor."

Congress is still off too, of course, for two more days. Which actually seems like a good thing to many because the last time they were in town for the 111th Congress those Democratic majorities added more to the national debt than the first 100 Congresses combined.

However, most of the real world is back at work with considerable catching-up to do:

Obama pays no attention to opinion polls, of course, because he's so focused on the nation's well-being. Which is probably another good thing because the president's job approval has started down again.

After all the pre-holiday hoopla over the "productive" lame-duck session of Congress that....

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Sharron Angle, on second thought, changes her mind on some things

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle with moderator mitch fox

Sharron Angle.

Sharron Angle made news earlier this year in her Nevada U.S. Senate campaign with some, shall we say, controversial suggestions that we might be able to privatize veterans affairs, deconstruct this silly Social Security business and don't unemployment benefits seem pretty much like welfare?

Remember those?

Well, forget 'em.

She's changed her mind. The conservative Republican has recently built a slight poll lead over her opponent, Democrat Majority Leader Harry "Nevada Dialect" Reid for the Nov. 2 elections.

Angle's gained that ground by hitting hard on Reid's loyal, diligent, determined Democratic work for....

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Of all major religions in America, Muslims really like Obama the most

Democrat president Barack Obama speaks at White House Iftar dinner in the White House 8-13-10 supporting a new mosque near 9-11 Ground Zero site

As a group, Americans of the Muslim faith give Barack Obama the highest job approval rating of any major religion.

A new Gallup Poll of 275,000 adults this morning finds that while the Democrat's overall approval ratings have dropped across all faiths -- even those Americans without any -- Muslims continue to approve of him the most. And you'll never guess which faith based in Utah thinks the least of the 44th president's job.

Seventy-eight percent of Muslims (down from 86% after Obama's inauguration) now approve of the president's 19-month job performance, while less than one-in-four Mormons (24%) do (down from 43%).

Catholics' job approval has fallen from 67% to 50%. Protestants' from 58% to 43%. Jews' from....

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19 months in, a few Americans think Obama is Muslim, but nearly half don't know what he is [Updated]

President Barack Obama speaks in an Alabama church

It's interesting, certainly timely and politically potent that a small but growing number of Americans believes that Barack Obama is a Muslim, even before his controversial recent support of a new mosque near New York's ground zero.

Correction, added at 6 p.m.: A previous version of this post said that since President Obama’s break with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his Trinity United Church, the president has been unaffiliated with any specific faith. In fact, he remains a Christian.

Update, added at 1:12 p.m.: In an effort to tamp down all the public speculation about the president's religious faith, White House spokesman Bill Burton tells reporters traveling on Obama's current vacation: "The president is obviously a Christian. He prays every day."

A small fraction of Americans -- 18% -- mistakenly think Obama is Muslim, although that's up from 11% early last year, according to the telephone poll of 3,003 random adults from July 21-Aug. 5.

But buried within the very same poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press is an historically more striking finding:

Nearly four years after he entered the nation's political scene in a significant way and nearly 19 months after he took the oath of office before many millions of excited witnesses, nearly half of Barack Obama's countrymen are unaware of what religion their president is.

From annual reports they know about his blood pressure, cholesterol levels, his income tax statements, fondness for pies and even his unhealthy private smoking habit.

But a plurality of Americans -- 43% -- currently say they do not know his religious faith. That number is....


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Here's a good one: In Nevada, Senate contenders Sharron Angle and Harry Reid argue religion

It has been an undoubtedly strange campaign season here in the Silver State:

Nevada’s economy is in the toilet, and yet its Senate candidates keep sparring over theology.

Sharron Angle (R-Southern Baptist) has taken some hits for describing her campaign as a "calling" from God and dismissing federal entitlement programs as a form of idolatry.

On Monday, Angle and her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Mormon) – who are neck-and-neck in the polls – whacked each other over a proposed mosque for near ground zero in New York, despite the fact they both agreed with each other and disagreed with President Obama about it.

This ongoing holy war caught the attention of Bill Roberts, a former editor of the ...

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Responding to opponent's demand, Harry Reid breaks with Obama over ground zero mosque


Caving to the demands of his Republican Senate opponent, incumbent Nevada Democrat Harry Reid today broke with President Obama, saying the planned Ground Zero mosque should be built elsewhere.

The Senate majority leader, who has carried much of the heavy political water for the White House's controversial legislative agenda, has been struggling in his reelection bid, and now confronts Sharron Angle on Nov. 2. Sensing an opportunity, Angle demanded over the weekend that Reid, the nation's highest-ranking Mormon, take a stand on his party leader's stand.

To deny Angle an ongoing campaign argument, Reid quickly did so today. But, showing his long political experience, did so through an aide's e-mail, thus denying the Republicans any replayable video of Reid opposing Obama, who's raised millions for the four-term Democrat.

"The 1st Amendment protects freedom of religion," Reid assistant Jim Manley wrote. "Sen. Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else."

Perhaps Reid is also aware of a new poll out Monday from Rasmussen Reports showing about two-out-of-three Americans (65%) are angry at the policies of the federal government, which voters so firmly put in the hands of Democrats in 2008.

The site of the proposed new mosque and social center is about two blocks from ground zero and the memorial to the 3,000 victims who died in those suicide attacks on Sept. 11. It is also about 12 blocks from another lower Manhattan mosque.

On Saturday, House Republican Leader John A. Boehner, among others, criticized the president's stance and said:

The fact that someone has the right to do something doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. That is the essence of tolerance, peace and understanding. This is not an issue of law, whether religious freedom or local zoning. This is a basic issue of respect for a tragic moment in our history.

Meanwhile, as The Ticket detailed right here this morning, Obama returned to California tonight for yet another party fundraising collection, this one in a Hollywood mansion. Folks who pay $2,500 can mingle on the grounds. Those who hand over $30,400 can actually go inside.

Related Items:

9/11 families, GOP's Sarah Palin and John Boehner oppose Obama's support of Ground Zero mosque

Obama supports mosque near Ground Zero of 9/11

Barack Obama issues special Ramadan message to the Muslim world

Republican (Insert any name here) defeats Obama in 2012, new poll reveals

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

The mounting momentum of 'The Unstoppable Sarah Palin'?

Republicans South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and Sarah Palin

Apparently some folks who don't like Sarah Palin but spend an awful lot of time tracking her online anyway read our recent item about how extraordinarily rich Sarah Palin isn't and objected to her e-mailed fund-raising link being in there. More properly that link should go to the SarahPAC site itself. So here is that link.

In yet another fund-raising e-mail to supporters Friday, Palin boasts of helping other "commonsense conservatives" with the donations from that site:

Through SarahPAC, we have been able to provide conservative candidates around the country with over $150,000 in campaign contributions. This money goes to support the campaigns of strong, conservative leaders like Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Marco Rubio of Florida, and John Kasich of Ohio.

Palin has been dismissed as a serious Republican candidate by numerous urban know-it-all's, who haven't noticed a new development in U.S. presidential politics: The last three consecutive presidents were all elected on their very first try.

Thanks to candidates' personal books (a new Palin bio for teens) and 21st century non-traditional communications media such as the Internet, YouTube, Twitter, texting and Facebook, where Palin's nearly 2 million fans can feel they're following her every move and statement at any hour, Americans have obviously become comfortable now -- for better or worse -- choosing national leaders with much shorter job resumes than in previous political history.

Like Mitt Romney and several other potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates, Palin is,....

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Romney 2.0: Mr. Fix-It

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets newly elected Sen. Scott Brown Get ready for another political book tour. Also another political reinvention.

A Republican governor in mostly Democratic Massachusetts, Mitt Romney has long defied easy description. He ran for president in 2008 by banking hard to his conservative side, convinced by his strategists that there was an opening to the right of maverick moderate Republican John McCain. He worked to raise money and offer advice to long-shot Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown but stayed in the background (until Brown's victorious election night, pictured) lest he stir animosity among voters still smarting over his healthcare reforms.

Now, two weeks before publication of "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," Romney is pivoting again -- this time pitching himself as a problem solver whose background as a successful financier makes him the ideal candidate to rescue the ailing U.S. economy.

Like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Romney is planning a book-tour blitz that mirrors his ambitions -- starting on ABC's "The View," stopping at the first-vote-in-the-primary state of Iowa, speaking this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., an early temperature-reader on the emotions of the Republican base.

But in a fascinating piece, the Boston Phoenix wonders if "letting Mitt be Mitt" will work. A Mormon whose father, George Romney, was governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate himself in 1968, the younger Romney has had a hard time finding his political bearings.

For one thing, his previous reincarnations — he ran as a liberal Republican in a losing attempt to unseat the late Sen. Ted Kennedy — have already strained his credibility. "Any further change — even to become the real, authentic Romney — will be viewed with suspicion, if not derision," wrote the Phoenix.

But the real problem, said the paper, is "the real Mitt Romney — Harvard MBA, political scion, hard-working businessman, super-wealthy master of Wall Street offerings, devout Mormon — might not be what Republican primary voters actually want."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Associated Press

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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