On Hannity & Colmes, Hugh Hewitt claimed that Mitt Romney is "not going to have a problem with pro-lifers" in seeking the presidency in 2008, but rather "[h]e's going to have problem with anti-Mormon bigots on the left, especially." However, recent polls indicate that more liberals than conservatives would be willing to vote for a Mormon.
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On the March 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt claimed that former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), a Mormon, is "not going to have a problem with pro-lifers" in seeking the presidency in 2008, but rather "[h]e's going to have problem with anti-Mormon bigots on the left, especially." However, recent polling data indicate that a lower percentage of conservatives than liberals would be willing to vote for a Mormon. Moreover, as Media Matters for America noted, Fox News has largely ignored the issue of conservative and evangelical Christian hostility to Mormonism and responded to other coverage of the issue with allegations of media bias.
According to a February 9-11 USA Today/Gallup poll, 75 percent of "liberals" would be willing to vote for a Mormon for president, compared with 66 percent of "conservatives." Gallup's analysis of the poll stated: "Conservatives are less willing than moderates or liberals to vote for candidates with several of the ['non-traditional'] characteristics, including being of Mormon faith or married three times. This could make things somewhat more difficult for Romney or Giuliani to prevail in the Republican primaries, since conservatives make up the base of the Republican Party."
As Washington Post staff writer Chris Cillizza noted in a February 14 entry on his washingtonpost.com weblog, The Fix, the USA Today/Gallup poll asked respondents "whether they would support a 'generally well qualified person' who was a Mormon. Nearly three in four (72 percent) said they would vote for a well-qualified Mormon candidate, while 24 percent said they would not." Cillizza further noted:
But Romney's challenge is to convince Republicans -- not the American public at-large -- that his Mormonism shouldn't be an issue. Among the GOP sub-sample, 66 percent told USA Today/Gallup that they would support a Mormon candidate, while 30 percent said they would not (77 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats said they could back a Mormon).
Hewitt's words are similar to those of Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes, who, as Media Matters documented, responded to questions about evangelical hostility to Mormonism with an accusation of "liberal intolerance" of Mormonism. Moreover, Hewitt's comments represent yet another example of Fox News' ignoring evidence of hostility toward Mormons on part of conservative evangelicals -- who make up a significant part of the Republican Party. As Media Matters also noted, Mormons were barred from conducting services during 2004 National Day of Prayer ceremonies by the group's task force chairwoman, Shirley Dobson, the wife of Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson. The Southern Baptist Convention, America's second-largest religious community after Roman Catholicism, and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson have reportedly declared Mormonism to be a "cult," while Prison Fellowship Ministries founder Charles Colson claimed Mormonism "can't call itself Christianity."
Hewitt appeared on Hannity & Colmes to discuss his new book about Romney, A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney (Regnery, March 2007).
From the March 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HEWITT: Yeah, I love the liberal media, Alan.
COLMES: No, no, no.
HEWITT: That "flip-flop" thing --
COLMES: I am the liberal media.
HEWITT: There you are. That "flip-flop" thing was invented by the liberal media --
HEWITT: -- to get back at the John Kerry stuff.
COLMES: Invented? He did it.
HEWITT: Mitt Romney is a Reagan conservative who, like Ronald Reagan, started out pro-choice and is now pro-life. And adamantly so. I spent a lot of time talking to him about this in this book [A Mormon in the White House?] because this is the one issue for me they've got to get right -- the Supreme Court. Romney knows this court.
COLMES: He said when he ran originally for office in Massachusetts that -- he talked about this personal story about a relative close to him who had a botched abortion, an illegal abortion, and then said, "And you will not see me wavering on that," his pro-choice stance.
How can one believe him saying he's not going to waver on it when he's now flip-flopped?
HEWITT: I asked the archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, for this book about that. And he said we need more people like Mitt Romney who become persuaded of the sanctity of unborn life. We need people to come to our side in this business, and we need them very much to be persuaded by people who have done that like Reagan.
Romney's not going to have a problem with pro-lifers. Pro-lifers are smart. They're sophisticated. They know the real deal. He's going to have problem with anti-Mormon bigots on the left, especially.