Mormon President? Mitt Romney

January 16, 2008

mittromneycampaign.jpgThe race for the Republican presidential nomination just heated up. Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, won the Michigan primary yesterday and is now the delegate leader. He defeated a formible candidate in John McCann, senior Senator from Arizona. Granted Michigan is considered the “home” state of Romney, but still a big win with delegates at stake.

Willard Mitt Romney was born March 12, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan. He is the son of a famous father, George Romney, who was president and chairman of American Motors and governor of Michigan from 1963 – 1969. His father ran for president on a couple of occasions. Mitt has one brother and two sisters. He is married to Ann (nee Davies) and they have five sons.

He had a close call with death in 1966 while in France on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was driving a Citroen with five passengers. It was hit head-on by a drunk driver and he was thrown from the vehicle. It was thought that he had died, but it was an identity mix-up and in fact one of his passengers had been killed.

Mitt’s education consists of a B.A. from Brigham Young University (1971) and an MBA, JD from Harvard University, Law School (1975). He founded his own company, Bain Capital, a venture and investment firm in 1984. Today he is financially independent and a successful businessman and politician.

His political career began when he ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against none other than Ted Kennedy. We shouldn’t count that one. Kennedys and Massachusetts, well they go hand in hand.

Next he took over as the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee of the 2002 Winter Olympics. At the time it was mired in controversy. He successfully got the event back on track and it ended up making money.

Mitt was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, but did not seek a second term in 2006 when he was up for re-election. He officially declared himself a candidate for president in January 2007 and is considered to be one of the leading candidates.

The one thing that he is battling in his campaign is his religious affiliation and the public perception of it. You see he is of the Mormon (or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) faith. While he was living in Belmont, Massachusetts he was bishop of the Cambridge congregation, then bishop of Belmont, and in 1986 became president of the Boston-area “stake” (analogy is a diocese).

Mitt is facing the same battle that John Kennedy fought in his campaign of 1960, separation of church and state, and voter perception of religion. John Kennedy is still the only person of the Roman Catholic faith to have ever been elected to the Presidency. Can Mitt Romney become the first Mormon to be elected president? Religious affiliation is not a criteria in the Constitution of the United States for being President, nor should it be. Mitt like Kennedy before him needs to clearly demonstrate that he believes in the separation of church and state.

By the way one of the biggest misconceptions of the Mormon church is that they condone and encourage polygamy. This is totally false. It is true that in the faith’s early years the practice was encouraged and allowed, but for over one hundred years now polygamy has been illegal and forbidden within the mainstream Mormon faith.

%d bloggers like this: