NBC's "Meet the Press" aired a special Easter Sunday segment this week on "Faith & Politics" featuring several legislators and clergy of various religions. The discussion remained civil for most of the segment without delving into heated debate on specific hot-button political issues. But after host David Gregory pressed Republican Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador on whether Mitt Romney's Mormon faith would become a controversy within the 2012 presidential election, as several Republican legislators have accused the Obama campaign of planning on making it, the freshman congressman fired back that Gregory's own network has already made Romney's faith an issue.
“Look at your own network. MSNBC, you have Lawrence O’Donnell just saying some really nasty things about the Mormon religion, about the founding of our religion, that it was based on some guy just waking up some morning and deciding that… he wanted, he had an extra-marital affair, and that’s how the religion was founded. There’s some really nasty things already being said by your own network, by NBC.”
Rep. Labrador is calling attention to the latest episode in MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell's ongoing fixation with the history of the church of which the Romney family are prominent members.
“Mormonism was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it,” O’Donnell said on his show Tuesday. “Forty-eight wives later, Joseph Smith’s lifestyle was completely sanctified in the religion he invented to go with it. Which Mitt Romney says he believes.”
Since Mitt Romney entered the national political landscape in 2008, O'Donnell has been infuriated by the media not questioning the former Massachusetts governor's support for what the MSNBC host has called the "racist faith" of Romney's father.
The Boston Globe notes that a Quinnipiac poll last year showed 29 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats are uncomfortable with the prospect of a Mormon president.
Rep. Labrador, who has not endorsed Romney for president and is a Mormon as well, said earlier in the segment that “everyone in politics is going to be influenced by their faith," and argued that "we can't talk about having politics void of any religious faith because then what you're saying is you're asking people to not be who they are."
“What you need to look at is the man, Mitt Romney,” Rep. Labrador went on to say. “We need to look at his life and the things that he’s done. And clearly he’s had a very good life.”