This past week, both LDS Living and Meridian Magazine, the two leading online LDS magazines, gave prominence to a New York Times article where Romney, somewhat defensively, explained his wanted to run for President again as an outgrowth of his religion. I made comments on both websites that he was tarnishing the image of the Church.
Of the five others who commented on those articles, four were apparently LDS, and none of them could see this. Unfortunately, many LDS people seem to have this simplistic view of the world—that LDS people are good and non-LDS people are not so good. In light of that, it was interesting to read the comment of the one clearly non-LDS commenter who said, “I do not think the LDS church is concerned about his actual qualifications to be president, they’re just excited about the PR plum and access to power that having him as president would be for them. I do not think he is a good man or a person of integrity, and therefore, would be truly a disaster in a leadership position. Hopefully, the electorate will know to steer clear of him as well.”
Like it or not, this person was reflecting the views of many, and the image being projected of Romney taking another shot at the presidency was of a man driven by ego, and of a position flip-flopper who wanted to tune his message to make himself more electable.
People were comparing him to Reagan, who ran three times before being elected. But Reagan ran for the nomination three times. That’s very different from finally winning the nomination, being defeated in the general election, and then wanting to be the nominee again. The normal thing to do after a general election defeat is to bow out and let someone else carry the ball. The exception there would be Nixon, but is Nixon perceived as having noble motives for doing that? And the circumstances were very different in 1968 when he ran again–there were not other strong contenders for the nomination.
No, the right thing for Romney to do was to let someone else be the nominee this time and take a supportive role. I salute him for finally doing just that. As one of the most visible Latter-day Saints in the country, he needed to do that for the sake of the image of the Church.
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