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As he mulls a run for Congress in Utah, Mitt Romney's son Josh tells the Deseret Morning News that the Mormon factor mattered in his dad's primary loss largely because Mike Huckabee made it an issue:
Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, brought out a surprising number of evangelical voters in Iowa. They weren't voting against a Mormon candidate, Josh Romney said, but he did run into some "pockets of bigotry" occasionally on the campaign trail.
"When it's religion, you definitely take it personally," he said. "It's highly offensive, but I think that the vast majority of people we saw were very accepting. They said, 'Your dad shares our values and we don't care about his religion."'
Only a few times, he said, did he hear voters say they couldn't support a Mormon candidate for president. "I said, 'That's a very un-American thing to say.' I mean, this is a country that based on religious freedom," Josh Romney said.
At the beginning of the campaign, he said, there was much more attention on Mitt Romney's faith, including a Newsweek cover story. "People, when all they knew about my dad was that he was a Mormon, they had a lot of questions about it," Josh Romney said.
That interest had lessened as the campaign season wore on, he said, until Huckabee raised the question of whether Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers during a New York Times interview in December.
That may have hurt his father's campaign, because "it highlighted the fact that his religious views were different" and turned attention back to Mormonism for a few weeks, he said. "It was a smart political move for Gov. Huckabee."