Sen. Orrin Hatch predicted President Obama's campaign team would use Mitt Romney's Mormon faith against him in the general election.Oh, evidence? How about when Axelrod appeared to inadvertently send out a tweet that linked to a story about how Mormons prevent menstruating women from participating in proxy baptisms, a practice whereby deceased non-Mormons are baptized during the baptisms of living Mormons.
Speaking to a group of GOP delegates at a campaign stop Tuesday, the six-term Republican incumbent warned, "You watch, they're going to throw the Mormon church at him like you can't believe."
Asked to elaborate in an interview later, Hatch fingered campaign adviser David Axelrod and White House aide David Plouffe as the masterminds who would insert the issue into the campaign.
"Let me tell you something. The Obama people have some of the best political consultants in the country and they don't get there because they're always wonderful people. They're very tough. I have respect for them. They're very tough. I've met with Axelrod, he's the best there is in the business. Plouffe, you've got to say he's one of the best. And there is nothing they won't do," Hatch asserted.
Hatch went even as far to say he thought the duo had already played the religion card against the likely GOP nominee, but failed to point to any evidence of it.
Axelrod's tweet was quickly deleted.
Like so many members of the Republican establishment, however, Hatch seems to think that Romney is deft enough to overcome the attacks.
"You can find some pretty outlandish statements by some of our early leaders that we've all had to live with from time to time, but he handles it very well and I think he's going to do a good job," Hatch told the gathering of delegates in this town about 20 minutes north of Salt Lake City.It might backfire among the Republican base but doesn't Romney need at least 10% of the black vote as well as a significant portion of the Jewish vote at a time when Obama as demonstrated a strong anti-Israel bias? How about women? Axelrod's tweet indicated that he is likely willing to portray the Mormon religion as sexist too.
Hatch, who frequently mentions Romney in his stump speeches, also asserted that attempting to assail Romney for his Mormon faith would only backfire.
"It's a mistake, because the one thing most people conclude if they have Mormon neighbors is that these people go to church. These people love their families. These are good people," Hatch said. "That's going to be an advantage in the end because even people who don't like the Mormon church will say, but the Mormons are good people."