Our colleague Jim Poniewozik has posted a thoughtful if admittedly cynical preview of Romney’s upcoming speech about “faith in the public square.” And I think he’s onto something, especially with these observations:
Is Romney’s Mormonism a subject he has no choice but to face now? Or is it a media briar patch he’s willingly throwing himself into–whether to change the subject, create a comeback narrative, or just dominate a few TV-news cycles?
Is it possible that Romney is banking on the squeamishness of the media when it comes to religion? The media are nervous to begin with about being painted as secularist elitists out of touch with “real America.” This might make the press more likely to give credit to claims of “bigotry” and frame the question as to whether Romney “overcame” them–rather than, say, whether whether voters’ reasons for rejecting him are valid in the first place.
I’ll add another observation from a jaded political operative that I ran into here in New Hampshire. He rolled his eyes at how the media was insisting on referring to the speech as his “Mormon speech”: “He’s not going to even use the word.” And, it’s true, to judge by what Romney has said so far, the speech isn’t going to have anything to do with his own religion, just, you know, God in general. Put it another way: If the drinking game for this speech was to drink every time Romney mentions your religious affiliation, members of the LDS church would stay very sober indeed.