And so it begins:
The Daily Beast contacted the office of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer today to talk about whether his state would be in play in the 2012 presidential election. About a half hour later, the governor called back, and he had a lot to say. He didn’t think that Montana would be a swing state, but the Democrat did say that Mitt Romney could have issues nationally because his father was “born on a polygamy commune in Mexico.”
While discussing swing states, Schweitzer said Romney would have a “tall order to position Hispanics to vote for him,” and I replied that was mildly ironic since Mitt’s father was born in Mexico, giving the clan a nominal claim to being Hispanic. Schweitzer replied that it is “kinda ironic given that his family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy.” Women, he said, are “not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”
Romney’s father, George—who served as governor of Michigan and was a member of the Nixon cabinet and also a presidential candidate—was born in Mexico in 1907 to a family of American Mormons who fled to Mexico when the United States government cracked down on the practice of polygamy. George Romney’s parents were in a monogamous marriage, but Mexico was the last bastion for the practice of plural marriage in the Church of Latter Day Saints. (The church has since expressly prohibited the practice.)
While the Obama campaign has ruled Romney’s faith off-limits, it was the subject of some attacks from evangelicals during the GOP primary.
In response to Governor Schweitzer’s comments, Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith said “Attacking a candidate’s religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don’t think others should either.”
Let’s get this straight:
Mitt Romney is not a polygamist. The Mormon Church no longer practices polygamy and has not done so since 1890, which was 122 years ago. Mitt’s father, George Romney, did not practice polygamy, and neither did Mitt’s grandparents. While George Romney was born in 1907 on a Mormon commune in Mexico where some people did still practice polygamy, the Romney family has resided in the United States since 1912.
The Obama campaign says religion is off limits. So why did Governor Schweitzer mention “polygamy” or “polygamist” seven times in one interview? It wasn’t an accident.
As we saw in the 2008 primary, Barack Obama always tries to take the high road. For instance neither he nor anyone in his campaign ever publicly accused Bill or Hillary of racism. But while Obama takes the high road, his surrogates plow the low road.
But this is not 2008. Mitt Romney has shown a willingness to counter-punch and the race card no longer provides Obama with full immunity. And as far as polygamy is concerned Obama is hardly in a position to throw stones. Barack Obama Sr. was a polygamist – he already had a wife (and kids) when he married Stanley Ann Dunham, Barack Jr.’s mother.
Personally I don’t have a problem with polygamy between consenting adults. Different strokes for different folks. I just can’t imagine having multiple wives at the same time. One at a time was more than I could handle.
As for Mormonism, I know more about the history of the church than I do its beliefs. I really don’t care what their teachings and practices are. As far as I am concerned all religions (including atheism) are equally
silly valid. All the Mormons I have known (less than 100, including some relatives and in-laws) are/were good people. I can’t vouch for the nearly 15 million Mormons I haven’t met.