Sep 062007
 
Authors: Joseph Haynie

This presidential campaign is more important than people have made it out to be.

This year is monumental in that it will test how tolerant America really is. The parties have provided the public with a variety of candidates from all demographic makes and models.

Not only is there the potential for a woman and a black man to ascend to the presidency, but also for a member of the Mormon faith, Mitt Romney, to occupy the White House as well.

Albeit no other Mormon candidate has ever been deemed first-tier or a front-runner, Romney is not the first to run for president.

Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ran for president in 1844.

Governor George W. Romney lost to Richard M. Nixon in 1968.

Mo Udall, a Democrat from Arizona, was defeated in the 1976 primaries by Jimmy Carter. Although these examples parallel one another in that each candidate is of the same faith, they are distinguished from Mitt Romney’s current campaign in that Mormonism was never an issue.

Unfortunately for Mitt, theology, not policy, has been the underlining theme associated with his campaign.

There are talking heads that will try to dissuade you from voting for Romney on the grounds of his religious beliefs and convictions, completely sidestepping any issue related to his political stances. The same people will tell you that he is not worthy of the White House because of trivial things like his hair or smile.

How foolish!

A presidential race is not a beauty pageant. Nor should there be a religious litmus test.

It is the resume, not the religion or one’s appearance, which should ultimately be scrutinized.

No other candidate, no matter how religious they are, has had to respond to questions concerning holy underwear, premarital sexual relations, or have had to defend one’s beliefs to belligerent bigots. Republican candidate Mike Huckabee was a Baptist preacher prior to running for Governor in Arkansas. John Edwards has brought up Jesus more often than any other candidate.

Why have we not applied the same critique to them as we have Romney? Why are we not worried about the influence their ecclesiastical leaders may have on their presidency or whether they will combine church with state?

Despite having gained significant ground on Rudy Giuliani, and maintaining a strong lead in key primary states, Romney is still labeled a long shot.

With Fred Thompson finally making his debut on a late-night talk show rather than the Republican debate, it will be interesting to see if he can trip up Romney’s recent surge in the polls. If trends remain the same, Thompson’s support will drop after he announces his intention to run.

Is Romney a good man? Yes.

Here is a candidate who has not been mired in scandal or controversy. Here is husband who has remained true to his wife with whom he has raised a good family for 38 years.

Is Romney qualified to be president? Yes.

Romney holds two advanced degrees from Harvard. A savvy businessman, he rose to the top of Bain CO., a capital investment firm specializing in resurrecting failed business ventures.

He also purged the Salt Lake City Olympics of scandal and corruption, turning a $379 million deficit into a $100 million profit.

He accomplished this feet in four years.

During his term as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney successfully led a bipartisan effort to provide health care for every one in the state without raising taxes.

Is Romney the right man for the job? That is for you to decide.

Joseph Haynie is a junior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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