[Posted by WLS]
I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here for a moment.
There’s been a lot of press over the last couple weeks about debate in the Romney camp about whether or not he should give a speech on his faith. I’m not sure if something along the line of JRK’s speech on his being a Catholic is what is under consideration, or if its something else.
But now we have a breaking national story on a Thursday about a firm named Western Wat doing “push polling” on Romney and the Mormon faith.
When I first heard this story late yesterday on a radio show (I can’t remember which since I bounce around the dial), the first link drawn to Western Wat was to a Texas (?) polling or advertising firm whose name I can’t recall, that has been linked to the Giuliani campaign at some time in the past. Some principal of that firm denied any connection to Western Wat, and denied any current connection to the Giuliani campaign.
Just a while ago I heard Hugh Hewitt interview Larry Kudlow, who was fortunate enough to have the first pre-arranged interview with Romney this morning, and Kudlow recounted Romney’s reaction as being very angry/forceful/emotional, directing particular ire at McCain-Feingold which by banning soft money donations to campaigns but creating the whole 527 advocacy group industry, has made discovery of who is behind attacks like this nearly impossible to discover.
Hewitt also had a blogger on who pays particular attention to the issue of faith in politics, and the blogger said the most likely — though not definite — culprit was probably some group that supports Huckabee, because there are some fundamentalist religious groups behind Huckabee that have a real militancy about Romney being a Mormon.
Hewitt also has up on his site a link to this article suggesting that Romney’s folks could be behind this. Hewitt dismisses the idea derisively — but I think he does so too quickly.
I have nothing to prove this, but a campaign looking but struggling to find a way to address a potentially difficult controversy about the candidate’s faith, yet finding no opening to address the question because no one has overtly attacked him on that basis, might be tempted to plant the story which would allow his partisan defenders in the media to come riding to the rescue with gun’s blazing — just as Hewitt has all day.
The Corner at NRO has a couple of posts up today pointing out that the principals of Western Wat appear to be Romney supporters, some are Mormon, and the group is based in Utah.
The thing about push-polling is that its usually done close to an election, and is done in large numbers because its meant to move votes away from one candidate, and is done so late that there is generally not a chance for the candidate to respond or a backlash to form. Placing calls to a few dozen or even a couple hundred voters two months before the vote is pretty useless.
So, what motive could there be for any rival or even a 527 group to do this in mid-Nov? I really don’t see one. Its not an effective counter to Romney’s mass media campaigning in IA and NH. And it was GUARANTEED to trigger an enormous backlash that Romney will likely benefit from, at least in the near term.
So, I’m just saying….