GOP hopeful Mitt Romney announced yesterday that he will NOT sign the infamous “marriage vow” put forth by an Iowa evangelical group that condemns not only gay marriage but pornography and infidelity but calls for “robust childbearing” to maintain America’s dominance. This is the same pledge that Michele Bachmann signed to much controversy (and Rick Santorum signed to less fanfare, since his crazy isn’t as attractive to the media as Bachmann’s brand of crazy).
His announcement is being portrayed in the media as an indicator of how the candidates are approaching the horserace that is the Iowa caucus. Bachmann is going hard after the social conservatives in Iowa, where Romney is not. But I think his refusal to sign the ridiculous pledge makes a larger point about the campaign. Decisions like these separate the grown-ups running for president from the rest of the field. Romney is quickly proving himself to be the grown-up of this crowd.
He understands that Iowa might look important, but that it’s not the be-all and end-all of a campaign. And, as a former governor and a veteran of the 2008 campaign, he realizes that it’s a long road to the nomination and that there are many groups whose favor you need to curry along the trail. Signing a pledge that is sure to generate controversy only generates publicity for the previously little-known group that is pushing it and does nothing for the candidate except provide some momentum that will probably prove meaningless two weeks after the Iowa caucus is over and the candidates and the media have moved along to the next primary battle.
Romney’s spokeswoman issued a statement that is not exactly heartening for proponents of gay marriage—“Mitt Romney strongly supports traditional marriage. But he felt this pledge contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”—but it least conveys that Romney is more politically aware and thoughtful than his opponents.