Two Republican presidential candidates — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — practice a religion that many Americans don’t quite understand. But would having a Mormon in the White House actually change anything in the day-to-day workings of the presidency?
“I think everyone will find it very boring or normal in the White House itself,” said Joanna Brooks, a Mormon and a columnist at religiousdispatches.org.
“There’d be a Book of Mormon, maybe, in the nightstand,” said Brooks, grasping at straws to come up with some things that would change. Of course, she pointed out, there’s already one in the nightstand in every Marriott hotel room in America.
Mormons obey the Word of Wisdom, a religious law that prohibits consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea and illegal drugs. But does that mean that under a President Romney or Huntsman, the White House would go dry and sleep-deprived aides wouldn’t be permitted to refuel with coffee?
“I would absolutely predict and bet a thousand bucks that you would not have a dry White House,” Chuck Warren, a Republican strategist and a practicing Mormon, told The Daily Caller.
While he may not personally drink coffee, Romney doesn’t seem have a problem with being around it. The New York Times reported that he discussed his 2008 loss at a holiday party with former aides “over coffee, sandwiches and doughnuts,” and that he has held at least one campaign function at the Buddy Brew coffee shop in Tampa, Fla.
The same attitude appears to apply to alcohol. A Boston Globe write-up of Romney’s inaugural ball as governor identified that there was a cash bar present for those with standard tickets, while those willing to shell out the big bucks were upstairs in the “exclusive Martini Lounge” where “[v]odka flowed down the trunk of an elephant-shaped ice sculpture.” Many guests reportedly took advantage of it. (RELATED: TheDC’s complete coverage of Mitt Romney)
“We’ve had teetotalers in the White House before, including recently George W. Bush,” pointed out conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt during an interview on his radio show, “so I don’t think a lack of alcohol makes much of a difference.”
“I actually don’t think that their LDS [Latter-Day Saints] faith would in any way change anything that any American would see or observe, even if they were working in the White House,” added Hewitt, who authored a book titled “A Mormon in the White House.”
Mormons who spoke to TheDC were similarly unable to come up with examples of changes likely to come to a Mormon-led White House.
“There’s a strict law of chastity, but I don’t think presidents are required to cheat on their wives; they just do sometimes,” joked McKay Coppins, a reporter for The Daily Beast and Newsweek who is also a Mormon.
“Mormons generally are taught that on Sundays you’re not supposed to work,” mused Coppins. “But we also are taught that there are exceptions for jobs that need to be done on Sundays; for example, doctors. I would imagine that the job of president probably falls under there.”