I was interested to note a spotlight on the Romney campaign in today’s Financial Times when I got in to work this morning and opened the paper on my desk. I noticed the article is also on FT’s website, although without the large picture of Josh and Tagg Romney with the Romney campaign bus.

The article is not actually very informative on a substantive level but provides a glimpse of the drama surrounding the Romney campaign as viewed disinteredly in the foreign press of a religiously tolerant country. Of course, the word “Mormon” is in the headline: “Mormon puts faith in family”. Since America is viewing Romney as the Mormon candidate for President — in a country where Mormonism is arguably and ironically fully at home as the exemplary American religion, having been founded there and having continuously emphasized its allegiance to the principles upon which America was built, to the extent of endowing the Constitution with a quasi-scriptural status in Mormon scripture — it is hardly to be expected that foreign press will ignore this facet of Romney.

Tagg Romney has reason to appreciate this article as it devotes a large paragraph solely to him and his role in the campaign. The FT article focused on Tagg because its purpose was to discuss the campaign itself, which it identified as relying on three pillars for support: (1) Romney’s immediate and extended family (noting the work done by his sons and wife but also the canvassing done by 96 members of Romney’s extended family), (2) the business and financial community (highlighting Romney’s experience with Bain capital and naming big donors to the campaign from the business and financial community), and, (3) the Mormon community (naming members of the Marriott family and John Huntsman Sr. as among Romney’s biggest donors). This Mormon angle makes for an interesting read from overseas. The FT did not present it with the slightest hint of anything sinister or conspiracy theories but rather noted it as a casual observation. I think it is fair to say that Romney is looking to like-minded people for financial and grassroots support for his campaign and I think it only natural that many Mormons also find themselves in that camp.

Romney also appeared in two articles the Financial Times last week, one in advance of his “Faith in America” speech and one after the speech. The FT’s reporting of the speech presented a focused comparison between the Romney speech and the JFK speech in 1960, implying that a prominent overseas view was that Romney’s speech was indeed meant as a JFK speech. The article provided the following helpful comparison in a sidebar:

Decision-making:

Kennedy: ‘I believe in an America . . . where no public official . . . accepts instructions . . . from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source’
Romney: ‘No authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions’

On private belief:

Kennedy: “I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”

Romney: “I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

On separation of church and state:

Kennedy: “I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end … and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews … will refrain from … attitudes of disdain and division … and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.”

Romney: “I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.”

The article ends with yet another comparison to JFK:

While Kennedy stressed the importance of separating church and state, Mr Romney called for religion to be given a bigger role in public life. “No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion,” he said. “But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning.”

The attempt to contrast JFK and Romney here might have been a little forced because, as the Romney quote shows, Romney reaffirmed the idea of the strict institutional separation of church and state and JFK did not call for a lesser role for religion in public life.