Lynne Cheney Comes to Romney’s Defense

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Her daughter Liz may have signed on for Fred Thompson (though Liz will be a no-show in the spin room this afternoon), but Second Lady Lynne Cheney–herself the daughter of a Mormon (Who knew?)–comes to the defense of Mitt Romney. She says in an interview with Bill Sammon in today’s Examiner that she is “really astounded” by the “virulently anti-Mormon” criticism he has received:

Cheney, who recounts her Mormon roots in a new book, “Blue Skies, No Fences,” said there is more religious criticism of Romney than there was of his father, the late Michigan Gov. George Romney, when he ran for president 40 years ago.

“It surprises me because it wasn’t that way when his father ran,” she said. “So I think we need to kind of say take a deep breath here. This is a country where people have the right to worship freely.”

Cheney (predictably) takes aim at the media, but GOP activists say Romney’s bigger religion problem is with the Republican Party’s evangelical base, particularly in South Carolina. The best explanation ever of that challenge was written by our own Nation Editor Amy Sullivan, back in her earlier incarnation with Washington Monthly.

UPDATE: Then again, being a Mormon is not without its political advantages.