by Troy Williams
My second Salon piece is up. What do you think? Is Mitt Romney going to have an adverse impact on how Mormons are perceived? Have a read and let me know!
“I would not vote for him just because he is Mormon. I want to know what he is going to do for the people. I want to see the compassion.”
Gladys Knight is not voting for Mitt Romney. In a recent interview with BET the famed singer, herself a Mormon, said she wants to see the GOP front-runner “talk about something else besides the money.” Knight’s ambivalence about Romney is shared by at least a handful of her fellow Latter-day Saints.
You see, last time a Republican was president, he became just about the least popular person in the world. So some Mormons are a little bit nervous that having one of their own in the White House could interfere with the church’s true mission of spreading the gospel — something with which it has already been having recent troubles.
“Mitt Romney is having a terrible impact on how we are perceived,” explained Brigham Young University law student Marshall Thompson, a former intern to Orrin Hatch, an Iraq vet and a faithful Mormon — the type of person, in other words, you’d expect to be part of Romney’s base. “I’m told he’s a very nice person in real life,” Thompson continues, “but he comes across as out-of-touch, materialistic and disingenuous.”
Thompson is cluing into what pundits have identified as Romney’s greatest vulnerability – the so-called likability gap that separates him from Barack Obama. Romney’s candidacy comes at a time when Mormonism itself is facing a similar crisis of likability.