A lot of buzz has been generated over Tim Pawlenty's new campaign video in which he talks about his religious faith. Before we get into why his video has generated controversy, lets watch it first:
Some people watch this video and think that T-Paw's new campaign ad was created to play the "Mormon card" against Mitt Romney and John Huntsman:
He makes clear early in the video that he thinks voters are due an explanation from him -- and from other candidates -- as to what exactly it is that they believe."When somebody is running for or holds high office, whether it's mayor, governor, or president of the United States, voters want to know, and deserve to know, 'Who is this person?' You know, 'What shaped their values? What are their values? Is this a person that's good to their word? Can we count on them?'" Pawlenty says in the video, aiming squarely at fellow candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, who are both of the Mormon faith."And for me, my faith is very important to me. It influences all that I do and it informs people about what my values are. And of course that has a great bearing on how you conduct yourself in public office," he says.Both Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, and Huntsman, a former Utah governor and ex-U.S. ambassador to China, have taken pro-life positions and spoken in favor of heterosexual marriage, yet they have generally tried to avoid making social issues a focus.Pawlenty draws a sharp contrast between their faith and his, making an explicit confession of Christianity. Speaking of his Catholic upbringing and journey into evangelicalism after meeting his wife, he discusses the way in which his faith helped him cope after his mother died when he was 16 years old. "Our faith is not in these earthly things, but it's in Jesus Christ," he says.
Currently, Tim Pawlenty is polling third in Iowa with only 7% of support from Iowans. He really needs do something to raise his chances of wining Iowa to make him more competitive on the national stage because he's only got 3% of American supporting him right now.
The timing of this video comes shortly after Tim Pawlenty hired Mike Huckabee's daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as Senior Advisor who will start helping Tim Pawlenty win Iowa.
As we all know, Mike Huckabee won Iowa in the 2008 presidential primaries by focusing on his Christian faith. He released a campaign video that focused squarely on his faith that was specifically appealing to Christian voters in Iowa. This led many people like Marc Ambinder and Charles Kruathammer to believe that he was playing the Mormon card against Mitt in the Iowa Primaries. Lets review Mike Huckabee's controversial campaign video below:
The claim that Mike Huckabee was playing the Mormon Card against Mitt Romney is not without merit. Mike Huckabee himself said that Romney's faith was valid criteria to use in selecting who would be the next President and that the contents of his religious faith should be a matter for scrutiny by the voters:
You have declined in a couple of interviews to say whether or not you feel the Mormon religion is a legitimate type of Christianity, or a type of Christianity. I have spoken with a number of evangelicals, and one of them was talking about her concern [regarding Mitt Romney] of having a president who might not be praying to the God she believes in. The other concern I have heard is having a president who would lead people not to be saved in other Christian faiths by promoting another very evangelical religion. Do you share any of those concerns?
You know, I just don't think that's an appropriate issue for me to get into, the nuances of the Mormon faith. And it is not the sole criteria by which I think a person should be judged fit or unfit for the presidency, any more than I think people ought to necessarily make it the defining issue for me. I am very comfortable answering questions about my faith. I am probably the only candidate that has been subjected to this sort of detailed questioning about faith. I don't think Romney has even been. And my faith is a pretty mainstream view of the world and of the Bible. But I accept that as part of the whole process. I just think all of us should be prepared to answer questions regardless of what our views are, and let people sort that out. But that's why I don't feel comfortable in saying, "Let me tell you what this guy believes." You know what? I don't know what he believes. Even if I knew what his church believes, I don't know that I can say what he believes until he expresses it.
The claim that Tim Pawlenty is playing the Mormon Card against Romney and Huntsman is valid. Its no coincidence that this video was released shortly after Mike Huckabee's daughter was hired on the campaign. Its also no coincidence that shortly after she was hired, we see Tim Pawlenty using the same strategy that Mike Huckabee did by creating a campaign ad targeted towards Christian voters in Iowa. It appears that Tim Pawlenty is using a strategy from Mike Huckabee's campaign playbook.
2012 Presidential candidate Rick Santorum thinks that Romney's faith will not be an issue in the 2012 election. Unless Tim Pawlenty wants to also adopt Mike Huckabee's strategy of playing passive agressive on Mitt Romney's faith, I'd like to know if he thinks the American voters should make Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman's faith an issue in 2012.