N2K Presidential Race: Could Mormonism Help Romney Connect to Voters?

There are a few things Mitt Romney doesn't like to talk much about on the campaign trail.

One is his wealth, which, when he slips it into casual conversation on the trail – like remarking that a few of his friends own NASCAR teams – tends to get him into hot water.

And another is his Mormon religion, which Romney has shied away from mentioning. The religion raises more questions than answers for some voters, and a poll taken last year revealed only 45 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Mormonism, with 32 percent viewing it unfavorably.

But a fellow Mormon, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, suggested Romney may be going about things all wrong.

“He should talk about who he is and what formed him,” Labrador said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, citing Romney’s experience as a Mormon missionary in France as one of the facets of his religion Romney should share.

Could Mormonism be the key to "unzipping" Mitt, as his wife Ann Romney put it, and letting the public get to know the man, rather than the machine he often seems to be on the trail?

--National Journal's Alexandra Jaffe
@ajjaffe

NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT

Romney's Pennsylvania Ad Bomb NEW!
[National Journal, 4/9/12] Romney's campaign will spend $2.3 million on advertisements in Pennsylvania in an attempt to finally stop Santorum's campaign in its tracks. The ad buy will saturate every major Pennsylvania market except for Santorum's hometown of Pittsburgh.

Path for Romney Getting Clearer
[Wall Street Journal, 4/8/12] The fight for the Republican presidential nomination appeared closer to a conclusion as Newt Gingrich on Sunday all but conceded to Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum continued facing a money shortage in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he has two weeks to make a last stand before the primary.

It's 'Game On' In Chicago NEW!
[BuzzFeed, 4/8/12] A year after officially launching, the Obama campaign is feeling good about their chances in November. And through their highly digitized staff and vast resources, the campaign is building a network of volunteers to battle Romney in the fall. But is the campaign too confident?

Romney Campaign Pulls Ad While Santorum Daughter is Hospitalized NEW!
[Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4/9/12] Mitt Romney's presidential campaign told stations across Pennsylvania to pull until further notice a television ad targeting fellow Republican candidate Rick Santorum because Santorum's daughter is ill, but apparently recovering. The approximately $2.3 million ad buy was slated to begin airing Monday morning and was to focus on Santorum’s record as senator and his loss in 2006.

How Much Did Gingrich Campaign Hurt Santorum? NEW!
[Bloomberg, 4/9/12] The biggest what-if scenario of Rick Santorum’s presidential bid is whether an exit by Newt Gingrich weeks ago would have allowed the former Pennsylvania senator to overtake front-runner Mitt Romney in the Republican race. The answer? We’ll probably never know.

Obama Job Approval Ratings Up in March NEW!
[National Journal, 4/9/12] President Obama's job approval rating went up slightly in March, averaging at 46 percent according to Gallup polls. That's oly one percentage point higher than his averages from January, and February, though.

Gingrich: Romney 'Far and Away' Most Likely Republican Nominee
[National Journal, 4/8/12] Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich all but conceded Sunday that front-runner Mitt Romney would win the party’s presidential nomination, saying he needed to be “realistic” about the  former Massachusetts governor’s chances.

Gingrich Admits Debt, Continues Campaign in N.C.
[USA Today, 4/9/12] Newt Gingrich heads today to North Carolina, a day after admitting he has chipped in some of his own money to help his debt-ridden campaign. He conceded Sunday that he is $4.5 million in the red and has donated “a little bit” of his own money.

Richard Land Asks Santorum to End His Campaign
[National Journal, 4/8/12] Evangelical leader Richard Land on Sunday urged presidential candidate Rick Santorum to exit the Republican nomination race and save face for a future White House run.

Both Parties Wooing Seniors
[Wall Street Journal, 4/8/12] President Obama and Democrats are counting on regaining support from older voters who switched to the GOP in 2008 and 2010 by attacking Republican plans to revamp Medicare. But Mitt Romney is proving to be a formidable competitor in this battle – he’s running ahead of Obama among seniors in some crucial swing states.

Cardinal Dolan: Mormon Faith No Reason to Vote Against Romney
[National Journal, 4/8/12] “There may be reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney as president of the United States,” Dolan said during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation. “That he’s a Mormon cannot be one of them.”

Is Mitt Romney Damaged Goods After a Brutal Primary Season?
[Daily Beast, 4/8/12] Romney seems to be the suitor his party doesn’t quite want, blamed for the party’s failure to win women and Hispanics, caricatured for his flip-flops, and facing an uphill struggle to build a winning coalition. But as Eleanor Clift writes, Romney may be in better shape than Bill Clinton in 1992 or Ronald Reagan in 1980.

The Pennsylvanian: A Reflection on Rick Santorum’s Quixotic, Historic Bid
[National Review, 4/8/12] Rick Santorum was a C-list Fox News pundit and damaged-goods former senator when he announced his improbable candidacy last year, and many politicos expected him to join the ranks of failed vanity campaigns like Arlen Specter in ’96 or Milton Shapp in ‘76. A retrospective from NRO’s Robert Costa.

Connecticut's Upcoming Primary Shaping Up As a Big Victory for Romney
[The Connecticut Day, 4/9/12] The last uncertainty for Connecticut Republicans is not whether Mitt Romney will win the state's presidential primary on April 24, but by how large a margin. The state will award 25 of its 28 delegates proportionally in the primary contest.

 

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Is Mitt Romney Damaged Goods After a Brutal Primary Season?
[Daily Beast, 4/8/12] Romney seems to be the suitor his party doesn’t quite want, blamed for the party’s failure to win women and Hispanics, caricatured for his flip-flops, and facing an uphill struggle to build a winning coalition. But as Eleanor Clift writes, Romney may be in better shape than Bill Clinton in 1992 or Ronald Reagan in 1980. 

The Pennsylvanian: A Reflection on Rick Santorum’s Quixotic, Historic Bid
[National Review, 4/8/12] Rick Santorum was a C-list Fox News pundit and damaged-goods former senator when he announced his improbable candidacy last year, and many politicos expected him to join the ranks of failed vanity campaigns like Arlen Specter in ’96 or Milton Shapp in ‘76. A retrospective from NRO’s Robert Costa. 

Connecticut's Upcoming Primary Shaping Up As a Big Victory for Romney
[The Day, 4/9/12] The last uncertainty for Connecticut Republicans is not whether Mitt Romney will win the state's presidential primary on April 24, but by how large a margin. The state will award 25 of its 28 delegates proportionally in the primary contest.

State GOP says Santorum, Gingrich might visit RI before April 24 primary
[Providence Journal, 4/9/12] Rhode Island is hardly a big draw in the presidential primary delegate sweepstakes, but the state Republican Party says two GOP presidential candidates -- Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich -- have expressed interest in visiting the state before the primary on April 24.

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