The media wants a horse race. Romney and the Republican powers-that-be would love to be going after President Obama right now. The disturbing personalities of the other candidates won't let them. The Republican base won't let them. The Republican base will not desert the party, they just want to vent against Romney. He's not their kind of guy - but he's not Obama! The vote may be depressed and the President could still lose this if the economic recovery falters or other world events or unforeseen disasters go badly.
It will be fascinating to watch the Republican party rally around a candidate many of them don't really like. Maybe it will force them to reconsider their general distrust or ignorance of Mormonism. I'm not hopeful about that. Romney is trying to downplay his religious background. I wonder how that will work. If he fails to step up to answer the questions, then who does? The Bloggernacle may be getting more and more hits from the outside. Heaven help us! [Yet the Bott race controversy was addressed very well and quickly.]
And what does the institutional church do? The Public Affairs Office on North Temple can't answer all the Mormon questions to shield the Republican nominee. The LDS Church leaders will likely continue to push political neutrality and the moderate positions they can as on immigration reform, anti-discrimination even for those with same-sex attraction, and supporting caucus attendance in both parties. This puts a slight arms length between them and Romney. Their push for civility including on the internet might also distance themselves from the inevitable negative campaigning. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles just issued this warning last Sunday:
Any use of the internet to bully, destroy a reputation, or place a person in a bad light is reprehensible. What we are seeing in society is that when people wear the mask of anonymity, they are more likely to engage in this kind of conduct which is so destructive of civil discourse. It also violates the basic principles the Savior taught.[My name has always been at the bottom of this page]. And Elder Cook went on:
With the challenges that exist in the world today, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are particularly concerned that you participate appropriately in the political process in the country where you live. The Church is neutral in political contests and does not support candidates or parties. We do expect, however, that our members will be fully engaged in supporting the candidates and parties of their choice based on principles that will protect good government. Our doctrine is clear: those who are “honest” and “wise…should be sought for diligently” (D&C 98:10). “When the wicked rule the people mourn” (D&C 98:9). This means that everyone should feel obligated to vote. In those states in the United States that have caucuses you should make yourself familiar with the issues and the candidates and fully participate. For example, the caucuses in Utah and Idaho for the various parties will be held starting this week and spread out until mid April. If you attend, you will be allowed to participate. We hope that you will check out the caucus time for the party of your choice and then feel an obligation to attend. We would hope that this would be true of all citizens, members and non-members alike in all states and all countries where elections will be held. The price of freedom has been too high and the consequences of non-participation are too great for any citizen to feel that they can ignore their responsibility.And I still think Huntsman's attempted candidacy was to show at least his, his dad's, and maybe a couple of other church leaders' differences of opinion with Romney as the sole representative of the politics of church members.
Oh, and there is Senate Majority Leader Reid.