Proving again that this year’s primary elections are wide-open Michigan seems to have chosen Governor Romney tonight in a primary that actually carries little weight in terms of actual delegates to the Republican Convention. But a win is a win is a win.Romney
Romney, it seems, needed a win to stay viable. Now Fred Thompson must win in South Carolina (Saturday) if he is to become viable, which seems unlikely. Then comes Florida where Giuliani needs a win. Giuliani’s strategy all along has been to win big on Super Tuesday, February 5. He may still pull it off but the national polls show him lagging behind McCain this week. Interestingly, only John McCain was close to Clinton or Obama in a possible general election match-up. Romney did the worst of the big four and Huckabee was only slight better, both being between 15 and 20% behind in a national match-up with either Democrat. Any handicapper would have to say that the odds on money should be placed on the fact that the Democrats will win in November.

Romney fascinates me personally. I agree with him on many issues but he does not appeal to me on a deep level. I can’t fully explain it but he seems to shift from place to place and leave me wondering about his core. The way he promised that auto jobs would return to Michigan, under his presidency, struck me as both impossible and as a kind of pandering. The pundits said he had to win tonight. He does lead in actual delegates but right now that is not crucial.

One 55-year old Romney voter in Michigan summed it all up when he said: "I see Michigan no longer as a state but as a company that’s broke. We need a businessman to fix it." Romney seems to be the executive with business experience. Given our past experience with such candidates I have my doubts that this is the combination needed to govern well right now. I look for a national symbol who can unite us and then govern across the divides that we face. I also look for a candidate who seems to mean what he says and then takes the heat even if we don’t like what he says. This was one called statesmanship. It seems in short supply today. 

Romney, a native Michigander, hit the stump hard during the four days leading up to Tuesday’s election. He mostly blamed Washington—and thus by implication Mccain
John McCain, the longest-serving Washington veteran in the field—for the troubles of the state’s economy. In between reminding voters of his roots, Romney vowed to help pull Michigan out of a "one-state recession." These promises seem to have worked in Michigan but I do not think they will work in South Carolina or Florida. (This is part of why the primaries are so interesting since issues vary widely from state to state.) I still do not see Romney as having the stuff to make a serious run at the finish line. Time will tell.

I underscore in these brief observations tonight what I wrote last week. Romney is not the populist that Mike Huckabee is but in Michigan he chose to run a more "populist" campaign right to the end. The statements I cited above demonstrate my point quite clearly. Now Huckabee will do the same in South Carolina, openly working the evangelical network for votes, even preaching in churches and networking pastors aggressively. For Huckabee evangelicals are his only hope and he clearly knows it. I am disturbed by how openly Governor HuckabeeHuckabee
uses pastors and churches to promote his candidacy. When Jesse Jackson did it evangelicals were very critical. Now that their man is a white Baptist minister they seem to think this is just fine.

I heard someone say tonight that Mitt Romney is a bishop in the Mormon Church. (I admit that I do not even know what this means since Mormonism operates in ways that I am not conversant with enough to offer an informed opinion.) Could this possibly be right? Please tell me if this is true or not and give me a source for your answer. If this is true then we have another issue on the table that I think we ought to discuss and think about openly.

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  1. Paul Findlay January 16, 2008 at 2:11 am

    “Mitt Romney: proudly, quietly Mormon”.
    By Linda Feldmann (The Christian Science Monitor), August 9, 2007

  2. Adam S January 16, 2008 at 5:40 am

    Romney was a bishop in the 1980s and early 1990s.
    Here is an article about it from Salt Lake City newspaper.
    It has been widely talked about in some blog circles. Especially when Romeny said in one of the early debates that he was not qualified to discuss Mormon theology.

  3. ColtsFan January 16, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Mitt Romney may be a Mormon bishop, but I am willing, as a Christian, to vote for him over Huckabee because
    Mitt will secure the border, prevent the Democrat Party from gaining tens of millions of new voters from ***yet again another Amnesty***, prevent the unnecessary growth of government due to careless spending.
    Mike Huckabee is a Christian pastor who, while conservative on abortion, is a liberal on many other issues.
    He does not understand the Biblical point that there are 2 Kingdoms on earth, and that church/state should not be confused.

  4. Daniel M. Livingston January 16, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    All the Mormon bishops that I know are, well, just regular guys. The LDS church has no paid clergy and bishops are called from the congregation, or ward, to serve for about 5 years. In that capacity, they serve as the leader of the ward, which normally consists of about 500 people.
    Bishops generally do the things a pastor or priest would do: counsel individuals and married couples, encourage the youth to live the standards of the Gospel, hear confessions and encourage people to repent, provide aid and welfare to the needy, visit the sick and the elderly, and in all things to help draw people closer to Christ. It is a very time consuming assignment, often requiring 30-40 hours per week. Almost all LDS bishops serve while raising their families and holding full time employment. No one volunteers or seeks such an office; one is called by a higher authority to serve.
    Romney was a bishop of a ward in the Boston area in the early 1980’s and was released from that calling in 1986, over 20 years ago. He has no such authority today and would not be recognized as having any ecclesiastical office inside the church. I would think, however, the insights he gained from serving in that capacity, while simultaneously trying to raise his large family and build a tremendously successful business, helped to shape and balance him as a man, to understand the struggles, hardships and weaknesses that all people have, of the needs of the poor, to make him a better husband and father, and a more compassionate and humble person. So while his service is in no way a requisite or disqualification to public office, I would think on balance it would be a positive component of his character.
    That being said, I completely agree with you that church and state are entirely separate spheres and people of faith who seek public office must understand that they are holding a public, not a sectarian, office. The LDS church, while its membership is heavily conservative Republican, as an institution remains strictly neutral in political matters. Its leaders would no more tell Mitt Romney what to do as President than they did when he was Governor of Massachusetts, or when his father was Governor of Michigan. It would not and does not do so to Sens. Harry Reid, Gordon Smith, or Orrin Hatch or the two dozen other LDS members of Congress. As you say, these are “two spheres, two kingdoms, two cities.” Romney has tried to make that clear in all of his public statements on the issue and certainly demonstrated that principle in his service as Governor.
    I hope this is helpful. Needless to say, I think Romney is a remarkable man who would make a tremendous leader for our country. I hope in the days ahead Republicans in other primary states, including California, will unify behind him as our party’s nominee. Among the many bright points of his huge win last night’s Michigan primary were the exit polls showing that Romney won a larger percentage of the evangelical vote than any other candidate. I hope this signals a trend away from the focus on religion and toward the merits of the respective candidates for this high office.
    Best regards,
    Dan Livingston
    P.S. Some other blogs which have interesting perspectives on the current role of religion and politics are and, of course,

  5. ColtsFan January 17, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Dan Livingston,
    Thank you for your comment above.

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