In the third Presidential debate of the 2004 election cycle, Democrat challenger John Kerry invoked the name of Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary, who is a professed lesbian, in a discussion about homosexuality. Moderator Bob Schieffer asked if Kerry felt being a homosexual was "a choice." If you recall the '04 campaign season, gay marriage was a hot button issue (arguably more so than today). Eleven states had on the ballot a proposed amendment to define "marriage" as solely between one woman and one man (it passed in all 11 states, including Oregon and Michigan). Since Kerry was getting trounced on social issues (which were very much at the forefront then), he looked to make some inroads with the following response:
"We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was; she's being who she was born as. I think if you talked to anybody, it's not choice."
Now Kerry could have easily referenced fellow Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, who had been a Congressman out of that state since the early '80s. I find it hard to believe that wouldn't be the first high-profile gay person to occur to Kerry. But by referencing a homosexual within the Republican ranks, Kerry was making a desperate attempt to perhaps dissuade "values voters" from voting for President Bush.
In the motif of Kerry's exploitation, President Barack Obama made it a point to invoke the religious practice of GOP hopeful Mitt Romney.
Policy differences aside, President Obama says he admires Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his family life, personal discipline and outward practice of his Mormon faith.
“He strikes me as somebody who is very disciplined. And I think that that is a quality that obviously contributed to his success as a private equity guy,” Obama said in an interview with TIME magazine ahead of the Democratic National Convention next week.
“I think he takes his faith very seriously. And as somebody who takes my Christian faith seriously (Except when it's politically expedient not to - ed.), I appreciate that he seems to walk the walk and not just be talking the talk when it comes to his participation in his church,” he said.
Yes, the Mormon faith currently is not held in the highest esteem, especially amongst some Evangelical Christians. In fact, the long desired hope of many on the left is that the southern Evangelicals would be turned off by a Republican Presidential candidate being a Mormon. From there, leftists surmise that it would cause enough ECs to stay home on Election Day, resulting in Obama possibly stealing a Southern state (like North Carolina, which he won in 2008). If that indeed were to happen, it's highly unlikely Romney could oust the incumbent President.
So even though Obama's senior strategist David Axelrod has declared talk of Romney's Mormon faith "not fair game," Obama has already planted a seed for his media lapdogs to nurture and fertilize.
In the end, we all know that faith and social issues will not be nearly as prevalent in this election cycle as they were in 2004. With the worst economic recovery in modern times, there will be two distinct visions put forth on how to best get America working again. At this point in U.S. history, perhaps even a Scientologist with a coherent economic plan may well have gotten a look.
Cross Posted at The Brad Carlson blog. Comments welcome.