by Max Brantley
Do Republican voters in the South have a problem with Mormonism? South Carolina exit polling provides a hint:
Exit polls show that 43 percent of voters who said that the candidates' religious beliefs mattered "a great deal" went for Gingrich. Only 9 percent went for Romney — a lower percentage than he netted overall, where he is running in second. In contrast, of voters who said the religious beliefs of candidates didn't matter to them at all, Romney won 42 percent.
So the self-professed South Carolina devout went for a serial adulterer over a church-leading family man.
Does Mike Huckabee, the Baptist preacher, have such a short memory that he forgets his own Mormon-baiting in 2008? No, he remembers all right. But, by his account, you just misremember it as a cynical and slimy play on religious bias.
Now, says Huck, not that there's anything wrong with being Mormon, Romney needs to give a little speech reassuring all the Baptists that he's not intent on making them believe in golden plates. He managed — classic Huckster — to drop an allusion to another favorite bit of religious bigotry in commenting on whether Mitt Romney's religion influenced votes:
"I'd like to believe that's not the issue," Huckabee told Fox Business host Neil Cavuto. "Four years ago, I was accused of making it an issue. It wasn't for me then, it isn't for me now. I would no more not vote for someone because they were Mormon than I would vote for somebody like Al Gore because he's a Baptist, for heaven's sake. I think that's a ridiculous reason to vote or not vote for someone, unless they've done something that's so wacky — like mix the blood of little children together in a public ceremony."
Blood libel, anyone?