In a prediction of underhanded campaign tactics to come, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told GOP delegates Tuesday that he foresees that President Obama’s campaign will try to use Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith against him.
“You watch, they’re going to throw the Mormon church at him like you can’t believe it,” Hatch said.
He later reiterated his point on Wednesday in Draper, Utah.
“For them to say they aren’t going to smear Mitt Romney is bologna. It’s way out of bounds, but that’s what is going to happen.”
Hatch, also a Mormon, and seeking reelection in a state with more than 60% of the population following the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, specifically pointed his finger toward Obama’s campaign adviser David Axelrod and White House aide David Plouffe.
"Let me tell you something. The Obama people have some of the best political consultants in the country and they don't get there because they're always wonderful people. They're very tough,” Hatch said. “I've met with Axelrod, he's the best there is in the business. Plouffe, you've got to say he's one of the best. And there is nothing they won't do.”
Hatch’s remarks sound familiar given a spat in the late summer between Axelrod and Politico regarding claims that the campaign was seeking to paint Romney as “weird.” Axelrod, refuting Politico’s claims on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," said the claims were “garbage.”
“If the president found out or you found out or the chief of staff found out that somebody working for President Obama was trying to take that tack, would you fire them?” host Joe Scarborough asked.
“I would, if someone used words like ‘weird,’ I would certainly do that, yes,” Axelrod responded.
Though Obama’s campaign has yet to respond to Hatch’s claims, Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz refuted the allegations Wednesday on MSNBC.
“That suggestion is utter nonsense. Let’s remember that President Obama has had so many things hurled at him – birth certificate questions, whether he is or is not a Christian,” she said. “For them to suggest that religion will be injected by President Obama and the Democratic Party, I mean, I think they need to take a look inward at the accusations that their party and their supporters have hurled before they take that step.”
Nonetheless, the issue of Romney’s faith has emerged from time to time on the campaign trail, most recently during a speech on Monday in Green Bay, Wis. A member of the audience unsuccessfully tried to get the candidate to respond to a passage from the Mormon text “Pearl of Great Price,” which says, “was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan” and has been said by some to be racist doctrine.