Life Out Here: These two or a Mormon?

An alleged pervert, a documented serial philanderer or a Mormon?

Given those choices, many Republicans are leaning toward the alleged pervert or the renowned philanderer.

Four women have come forward in recent weeks saying Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain sexually harassed the women in work-related situations. Cain denies he did anything wrong to any of the women, despite settlements reached with two of the accusers.

Cain, in fact, is becoming even more steadfast in his denials as more women come forward. If 4,000 women eventually claim Cain sexually harassed them, Cain will insist the continuing stream of evidence of misconduct either was, depending on the day, created by the Democratic smear machine, the Rick Perry campaign or Pizza Hut operatives.

Speaking of Perry — whose presidential run is unraveling as it appears he is either a wondrous dim bulb or smoking some wondrous weed before all public appearances — the demise of the Texas governor’s presidential campaign has provided a top-level opening for Newt Gingrich, who has jumped on this opportunity almost as quickly as he has jumped on women other than his wives. That Gingrich hasn’t been able to keep his zipper up around women other than his wives is something he has freely admitted. Heck, his serial dalliances could make Bill Clinton blush. OK, Bill might pat him on the back. But still …

At this point I probably don’t even need to mention the hypocrisy of Gingrich, as speaker of the House, pursuing a case against Clinton for lying about his extramarital affairs when he was doing similar cheating and lying. I also probably don’t need to get into all the shenanigans that pushed Gingrich out of Congress. What is funny is Cain and Gingrich are in second and third places among those seeking the nomination for the political party that insists it aims to protect America’s morality. What is sad is so many of this nation’s moralizers would choose either of these two swordsmen, one alleged and one acknowledged, over Mitt Romney, simply because Romney is a Mormon. Yes, there are those who will argue with truth in their hearts that they oppose Romney as the Republican nominee because he authored “Romneycare” as Massachusetts governor and is a political “moderate.” (Vlad the Impaler would be a moderate in today’s Republican Party.) But for many evangelicals — and I have evangelicals as friends and faithful correspondents — Romney’s Mormonism is a disqualifier on its own.

For such folks, that Romney has been married for 40-some years, that he is the father of five fine young men, that he was a successful governor and businessman, that he appears to be nice-to-the-point-of-corny gentleman, all that carries no weight when put up against his scandalous faith.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all of my evangelical friends hate Mormons (and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, Methodists, liberals, people with interesting piercings …). Some just intensely dislike Mormons.

They believe the Church of Latter-day Saints is an illegitimate religion or a cult. Since around 40 percent of Republicans are evangelical Christians, it will be hard for Romney to put together a coalition to win the party’s nomination. That’s the case despite the fact that every poll says Romney has the best chance of any Republican presidential contender to unseat President Obama. I feel for my Mormon friends marginalized by so many in the political party to which most are so attracted, but more than that I believe it is a sad statement that so many Republicans prefer as their presidential candidate a multiple alleged pervert or a documented serial cad over a fine, and qualified, Mormon gentleman.

Bret Kofford teaches writing at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus. His opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of San Diego State University or its employees.

Kofford can be reached at Kofford@roadrunner.com
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