Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sen. Bob Bennett says: Utah Democrats have become “the anti-Mormon Party”

Utah Senator: Democrats have forced out moderate Mormons
By Andy Howell
Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — Sen. Bob Bennett says Utah Democrats have become “the anti-Mormon party.”

That’s news to Steve Olsen.

Olsen, a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, was recruited by Democrats to run against Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Bishop in Utah’s 1st Congressional District. As part of his campaign, Olsen, a former community columnist for the Standard-Examiner, has penned a pamphlet entitled: “Why Most Utahns are Democrats But Just Don’t Know it Yet.”

Olsen was surprised by Bennett’s comments and said he would never use that
type of rhetoric to describe the national Republican party. However, he believes there are plenty of Republicans, especially in the South, who hold anti-Mormon sentiments.

Bennett made his comments this week to the Standard-Examiner's editorial board. The Republican senator also told the board that he feels Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a good chance of being elected president in 2008 despite his Mormon roots.

Romney has been mentioned frequently as a Republican presidential hopeful in 2008. Bennett said he has been told by political insiders that Romney is the candidate U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., fears the most. Sen. Clinton is considered by many political pundits as the Democratic front-runner for her party's nomination.

A Los Angeles Times poll conducted this summer, though, indicated that 37 percent of those questioned said they would not vote for a Mormon candidate. But Bennett thinks the poll results will be an advantage for Romney.

"I think many evangelicals will vote for Romney just to show the media they aren't bigots," Bennett said.

Bennett pointed out the Republican nominee for governor of Oklahoma, Ernest Istook, is a Mormon and that state is part of the Bible Belt.

Bennett also said that Romney is emerging as a viable alternative to the other top Republicans mentioned as possible presidential contenders: Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He said bloggers have begun calling these three the "adultery caucus." All three have had failed marriages.

As for a matchup between Romney and Clinton? Bennett says it would be no contest.

"Mitt beats Hillary easily," he said. As for Utah Democrats, Bennett says the party has chased away Mormon moderates and is now a party of extremists.

"The Democrats can't bring themselves to have a big enough tent," Bennett said.
Bennett said he has heard from longtime Democrats who feel the party has been taken over by anti-Mormons.

Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, called Bennett's comments "offensive." He said the Democratic Party reflects the demographic makeup of the state with about 70 percent of its members considering themselves Mormons. He said a majority of the
party's candidates on the November ballot are members of the LDS Church.

Olsen and Taylor said Bennett is just trying to perpetuate a myth for political purposes.

A spokesman for the LDS Church declined to comment on the matter.

Publication: Standard-Examiner Digital Edition; Date:2006 Aug 31; Section:Front Page; Page Number: 1A
Article reprinted on The Utah Amicus with permission from Andy Howell


Rep Craig Frank said...

You'll also find a number of wonderful "card carrying" LDS members of our state legislature. For example, Rep. Neil Hansen, a better guy you'll never meet, and former LDS Bishop, to boot.

Craig Johnson (Draper) said...

Thank you, Rep. Frank, for your comment.

I'd like Senator Bennett to call Lisa, my wife and candidate for State House in Draper/Sandy and explain to her that she is in the wrong party because she is an active member of the LDS church.

A little about Lisa:

- A life-long member of the LDS church
- Recipient of a trustees scholarship to BYU
- Earned Bachelors and Masters from BYU (magna cum laude)
- A returned missionary, having served in Korea
- A former instructor at the Missionary Training Center.
- A linguistics instructor at BYU.
- A stellar member of our ward, serving in many callings and putting her all into everything she does for the church.

And, of course, Lisa is a proud Utah Democrat! Lisa's mom is a public school teacher. Her dad is a retired teamster and now a schoolbus driver. They understand the value of work. Lisa's family didn't have a lot of money but what they did have was love and support in a dynamic, vibrant, religious home. You will be hard-pressed to find a family more committed to the gospel, showing true compassion for others.

There are so many examples like Lisa. Thank you Rob, and to all members of the party who value religious diversity and who show respect and concern for all of humanity.

John Marlor said...

I am sick and tired of the hate filled bilge water that our so called Senators of this state are spewing. It is the last resort of those who know that they are in the wrong to cast their opponents as devils and godless beings. These men are a zit on the face of democracy and do not deserve to be listened to. It is time to oust both of these hate mongers, they are no friends of those of us who love this country and the freedoms it stands for. Those who want to destroy liberty and democracy are sometimes the most vocal about its greatness. Those of us that don't have our heads in the sand,or somewhere else, know that the current group in charge of the House and Senate are out to destroy our liberty and democracy in the guise of defending the country against outside forces that hate us for our freedom. Falling for tripe will only hasten the fall of this country and all the things it stands for. When you are so far right that you are beside yourself even something that is moderate seems to be spawned by Communist thought. A pox on you and your smear tactics Senators you may win election again but you will always be loosers in the game of humanity.