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Social Cons Plot Against Romney in Iowa

As Mitt Romney ramps up his campaign in Iowa, a group of high-profile social conservatives are meeting on Monday to figure out how to prevent him from winning the state caucus, CNN reports. These social conservatives oppose Romney because of his flip-flops on abortion and gay marriage, but as CNN notes, his Mormonism obviously plays a role:

Many social conservatives and other religious leaders in the state have openly labeled the former Massachusetts governor as a “flip-flopper,” a criticism the campaign frequently beats back, while others have seen Romney’s Mormon faith as an issue. And many of them have openly hoped for someone to emerge as a viable alternative to the former Massachusetts governor.

I’d venture to guess that Romney’s religion is one of the main issues driving this. Especially when these are the other candidates the group is considering endorsing:

The effort is said to still be in the discussion phase. Participants were said to have narrowed their focus down to four candidates: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Admittedly, Bachmann and Santorum are flawless social conservatives. But Newt Gingrich? He may have the right position on abortion and gay marriage, but his personal life has been far from squeaky clean. And Perry’s taken some conflicting positions on gay marriage and angered values voters with his support for the dreaded HPV vaccine.

Why are Gingrich’s and Perry’s missteps so easily forgiven, but Romney’s aren’t? As Jonathan wrote last week, hatred of Mormons is one of the last acceptable bigotries in America. If the point of Monday’s meeting is for social conservatives to choose a candidate who is unblemished on their issues, then they should at least be consistent about it and endorse someone like Bachmann or Santorum. But if Romney’s faith is the main issue, then the larger conservative movement in Iowa shouldn’t entertain that kind of intolerance.