As a practicing Wingnutologist, I don't think there is a way around this. Willard Romney is going to need to address the Mormon Question at sometime.
In 2008 and even today, Obama was hammered of the question of "Place." He does not seem to fit into the culture landscape. As Kathleen Parker put it last election:
Just as we once and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide. Who 'gets' America? And who doesn't?... It's about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.
Some run deeper than others and therein lies the truth of Josh Fry's political sense. In a country that is rapidly changing demographically—and where new neighbors may have arrived last year, not last century—there is a very real sense that once-upon-a-time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity. We love to boast that we are a nation of immigrants—and we are. But there's a different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines back through generations of sacrifice.
If this seems true to a conservative about Obama in 2008, it should equally apply to Willard in 2012.
At the bone, Parker statement echoes of an old timey Populist argument. It addresses entitlement. It goes like this - my group has been here a long time, we've worked hard, we've earned the right to do X, Y or Z. The GOP base is in a populist mood at the moment. Teabagging is basically an expression for rightwing populism. I think Romney will have to reconcile his Church's outsider status with the GOP Base sense of its insider status, i.e., being "Real America" as Sweet Sarah puts it:
SALT LAKE CITY — As 20,000 Mormons streamed from the church conference center, a ragtag group of protesters stood across the street shouting that the Latter-day Saints were going to hell. Mormon families, who had gathered here for two days of speeches and spiritual guidance called General Conference, ignored the hecklers or laughed and kept walking.
This, after all, is a church accustomed to much worse.
Yet, even with a resilience built over nearly two centuries as outsiders, church members are anxious about what’s ahead. Republican Mitt Romney is about to become the first Mormon nominee for U.S. president on a major party ticket. That will give them a chance like no other to explain their tradition to the public, but the church’s many critics will have a bigger platform, too. And the vetting will take place amid the emotion of what may well be a nasty general election.
And the church has faced much worse things in the past. Here is how the Mormon Card was played - Old School Style:
By National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States - 1889
In 1885 the convictions for polygamy, or unlawful cohabitation had been but thirty seven. In 1886 they rose to one hundred and twenty seven and in the succeeding year to two hundred and thirty six. At our last meeting in Chicago this good work had begun but the result was not yet clear. The convicts were martyrs and refused to accept amnesty by promising to obey the law. The law of the revelation received was more to them than the law of the nation. It was a serious question whether the legal machinery of a free country was sufficient to crush an institution however immoral which intrenched itself as did polygamy behind the bulwarks of fanaticism and religion. Force cannot reach the conscience and the mere passive resistance of a misguided conscience needs more power to overcome it than courts and armies can supply without absolute annihilation. But the war against polygamous Mormonism so vigorously and auspiciously begun by the civil power at the time of our last meeting was supplemented by other agencies of immigration and religion which we must also consider. Their combined assault has been so successful that we meet this year with hearts grateful to God that we can see an unhoped for progress. The victory is already assured and our friends who have been put in the front and who have led the fight in Utah itself are jubilant at the prospect. No one can visit Utah without perceiving that the Saints and their leaders are in full retreat and that the public sentiment of the people of Utah is being rapidly transformed under the religious and political influences that have begun to take possession of the Territory.
A great step in advance was taken by Congress when in 1887 the Tucker Edmunds law was passed under which cohabitation was made evidence of plural marriage. Women could no longer swear that they were not married to their Mormon husbands. This law not only made convictions simpler by defining the evidence that would be accepted, but it proved what was the mind of Congress and the nation and that we would not be diverted by the cry of religious persecution. This law also disincorporated the Mormon Church and the Perpetual Incorporation Fund Society which in violation of their own acts of incorporation were absorbing the business and wealth of the Territory and the Attorney General of the United States was directed to close up their affairs. This has been done. By the same act the public schools were taken out of the hands of the hierarchy by appointing a school superintendent and provision was made for redistricting the Territory in order that Gentile votes might have proper weight in elections. The moral force of this legislation apart from vigorous execution has been immense. As a chief result a long procession of apostles and elders have gone to the penitentiary others have fled to the mountains and others have promised to obey the law and have accepted amnesty.
Mormons have been here a long time. Like American Democracy, their religion started in North America, too. It has roots. It has history. You can say Mormon’s have earned the right to do X,Y and Z.
Like Obama did with his reverend wright speech on Race, Willard may need to replicate this feat with a speech on Place and describe of how his group fits into “Real America.”
That is my OPINION anyway as a wingnutologist.