John Thune’s endorsement should help Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney win over wary Evangelicals.
Mitt Romney received a big endorsement in the form of South Dakota Sen. John Thune today.
Though Thune’s endorsement revolves around the “conservative businessman’s” economic acumen — “we can choose a leader who has the needed experience to lead an economic recovery,” he said — the senator’s backing is really about evangelicals wary of Mormon Romney.
Thune, once considered a potential presidential candidate, is a super star among the GOP’s social conservative, largely evangelical base. GOP 12 notes, “He’s got major cred with evangelicals — he counts himself one, went to a Christian school and actually lived on C Street without falling victim to Bourbon Street.” This religious Republican street cred will help Romney win over Evangelicals — 53% of whom still claim Mormons are not Christian, according to Pew Research, and about 15-20% of whom say they will not vote for Mitt Romney.
Want more proof that Thune’s religion is the biggest factor behind his Romney endorsement? Look at the backdrop for his official announcement: Des Moines Iowa, a state where social conservatives rule the electoral roost. If Romney wants to win their vote, and that state’s caucus, he needs some serious evangelical heavy-weights behind him.
And Thune’s endorsement couldn’t come a moment too soon. CNN reports that social conservative leaders in Iowa are currently hatching a scheme to keep Romney from winning the nomination.
Representatives for leading social conservative groups in Iowa held a secret meeting Monday as part of an effort with one main goal: find and support a Republican presidential candidate who can stop Mitt Romney in Iowa.
The idea: avoid splintering the conservative vote in the state by rallying around one GOP rival who could win Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucus and then challenge Romney in New Hampshire and the other early voting states.
Social conservatives know they have to ramp up their anti-Romney efforts, because a Pew Research survey found that 91% of white evangelicals prefer even Romney over Obama.
Image via The Argus Leader.