The Politico is reporting that a “well-connected” McCain supporter is “circulating” the fact that Mitt Romney gave $250 in 1992 to the campaign of former New Hampshire Representative Dick Swett (D) has made a point of noting that Swett is a Mormon. Is this an attempt to bolster the Damon Linker note of caution that Mormon politicians hold their faith above their allegiance to their country? ~Marc, Law Students for Romney

Er, no, since the point of mentioning the donation would be that Romney was supporting a fellow Mormon who was a Democrat rather than being a good, little partisan and backing only GOP candidates.  As the story at The Politico says:

“Some activists are beginning to wonder: does Mitt support Mormons over Republicans?”  muses this person.

By “some activists,” of course, the McCainiac means “some activists who support John McCain.”  It’s rather funny that any of Romney’s opponents would attempt to make an issue out of this (if Giuliani tried to question Romney’s party bona fides, that would take some chutzpah).  What I think the McCain people are trying to do here is to cast doubt on Romney’s reliability as a Republican.  This will play on the “flip-flopping” argument that Brownback is using as a club to beat Romney, and it will tie into GOP primary voters’ anxieties about candidates from Massachusetts.  On the other hand, if Romney can show that he has a record of supporting candidates from both parties while also convincing people that he is now a serious conservative (no laughing, please), this might work to his benefit by combining his social conservative appeal with evidence of pragmatism.  It would, that is, were it not for the roughly 40% of Americans who have already determined they would never vote for a Mormon

These voters don’t need to know that Romney supported a Mormon Democrat in a congressional race nearly 15 years ago to view him with suspicion; they just need to know that he is a Mormon.  To the extent that the McCain people’s whispering about the donation emphasises Romney’s Mormon identity, it will have a greater effect on his candidacy than some meager donation he gave back in ‘92.  However, the purpose of the whispering does not seem to be aimed at his Mormonism in a Linkeresque or Christian conservative way.  Far worse than (obviously absurd) dangers of a national Mormon theocracy or adherence to a false religion in the eyes of the McCainiacs is a lack of lock-step allegiance to the Red Republicans.

Update: Something else about our Romneyite’s question just struck me as fairly silly.  Linker said some provocative and fairly insulting things about Mormonism, but he did not say that Mormons put their faith ahead of their loyalty to the country.  On the contrary, he identifies one of the principal threats from Mormonism to be their theologically-fortified Americanism.  As Linker would have it, this supposedly dictates that Mormon millennial expectations will drive Mormons to political action to hasten the return of Christ here in America.  As his critics have already pointed out, this is a fairly loopy argument in that it has very little to do with what actual Mormons are interested in doing.  Nonetheless, as wrong as Linker was about this and as bizarre as his complaint against Mormons was (they’re too patriotic!), he did not claim that they put their religion before their country.  The problem is supposed to be, rather, that their faith and their sense of patriotism are too closely intertwined.  The notion that anyone is accusing Mormons of putting religion ahead of country in a practical way is a product of misleading and annoying comparisons between old anti-Catholic tropes and present-day anti-Mormon opposition.  I swear, if I see one more mention of JFK…