The Speech: How is it playing in Iowa,” asks Jonathan Martin of the Politico.

Not great.

At least not in the most powerful paper in the state, The Des Moines Register.

The arrival of snow here in the heartland as well as the Omaha tragedy has diminished some of the coverage, but The Speech still got considerable attention yesterday and today.

It was above the fold, in the top right corner (the traditional lead story position) of yesterday’s paper.

“Romney takes risk with talk on faith,” read the headline above David Lightman’s syndicated story. The piece included significant skepticism about the political impact of Romney’s speech. But worse for Mitt’s camp, it included this key right under the story ended on page one: “Learn more about Mormonism” (yes, it was in bold).

On the back of the front section was a list of bullet points under “Beliefs of the Mormon Church.” Naturally, included were all the key differences between the LDS church and mainline Christianity.

Today’s paper played the story on the inside of the front section, with two pieces. First was the AP wrap from College Station headlined “Romney vows to serve nation, not Mormon church, if elected.” It was the shortened version of Glen Johnson’s piece, but the last two paragraphs had this:

“Mormons believe that authentic Christianity vanished a century after Jesus and was restored only through Joseph Smith, who founded the religion and is viewed as a prophet by its adherents.

“The Mormon scriptures include the Old Testament and New Testament, as well as books containing Smith’s revelations.”

This was the danger for Romney in giving the speech: even though he would not address doctrinal differences, giving a high-profile faith speech would inevitably spur others (as in the media) to raise those differences and therefore draw more attention to a religion that some committed Christians have serious issues with or at least questions about … etc.

Others concur with Martin’s analysis.

“THE albatross hanging around Mitt Romney’s neck, his church, hardly budged after he made what was touted as a landmark speech on religion but only once made mention of the word ‘Mormon,'” writes Robert Lusetich, Los Angeles correspondent for theaustralian.news.com.au, in a story titled ‘Kennedy speech’ fails to win Romney sceptics

Also:

“Mitt Romney gave his long-anticipated speech about religion, which he called “Faith in America,” writes Star Parker for the Scripps Howard News Service in editorial titled The doubts about Romney remain

The purported purpose of the address was for the Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor to dispel festering doubts about himself because of his Mormon faith.

Unfortunately, I believe it was a failed performance.

I think that Romney and his team overestimated the extent to which his Mormonism has been what is troubling his candidacy and underestimated the extent to which his credibility has been the real problem.

Despite outspending all the other candidates, the Romney candidacy hasn’t ignited … etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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