You may have read about the controversy surrounding the Family Research Council's Values Voters Summit (though isn't safe to assume that all voters vote their values?) and the claim that Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon faith makes him a member of a non-Christian "cult." From Politico:
Jeffress described Romney's Mormon faith as a “cult,” and said evangelicals had only one real option in the 2012 primaries.
Jeffress said that fundamentalist Christians cannot trust that Romney will be a strong advocate for their conservative values (a claim that is reasonable even without bringing Romney's faith into the conversation), and that while Romney is a fine example of an individual living out family values, “It is only faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone that qualifies you as a Christian.”
Romney spoke later, but did not address Jeffress's comments directly; he instead chose to denounce divisive language in general and addressed one particular speaker, radio talk show host Bryan Fischer:
Fischer lived up to Romney's expectations, stating that the US needs a president who understands that just as Islam represents the greatest long term threat to national liberty, the "homosexual agenda" represents the greatest immediate threat to every freedom and right enshrined in the first amendment (Fischer was interrupted with enthusiastic applause after making this claim).
Romney interestingly chose not to condemn the specific attack on his religious faith, but instead sought to distance himself from a far-right extremist whose views will alienate and shock an overwhelming number of mainstream Americans. Why is Romeny ignoring Jeffress's attack and focusing only on Fischer? Is he already playing to the centrist voters who decide general elections as polls show him once again leading in key Republican primary races? Is he hoping to avoid ties to the more extreme cohorts of his party, associations that will ultimately prove unpalatable to general election voters? Or, has he recognized that the current GOP appears sometimes to function more as a church than as a political party? (If Perry is given the nod, his Texas-sized prayer rally will only reinforce this notion). Is he not addressing the claims against Mormonism in an attempt to deflect attention from the issue altogether and perhaps not offend any who may agree with such charges?