Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers doesn't think fellow Mormon Mitt Romney did a good job explaining and answering questions about their religion during the 2012 presidential campaign, and he has a point.
"I think Romney would even admit that he wasn't a great ambassador for [the Mormon Church]," Flowers said in an interview with the Daily Beast. "His answers weren't great, and it made it even worse; it seemed like he was hiding something. But there's really nothing to hide. You can find out what you need to find out! It's all there."
Flowers has long been outspoken about his religion -- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tapped him to film a video for their "I'm a Mormon" campaign in 2011 -- while Romney hasn't. But in Romney's defense, from 2008 to 2012, the percentage of Americans who said they would not vote for a generally well-qualified candidate their party nominated who happened to be Mormon was between 17 percent and 24 percent, according to Gallup polling. Only gays or lesbians, Muslims, and atheists had a higher percentage on that question. Romney also lost every 2012 primary in which evangelical Christians made up a majority of voters, according to exit polls.
Mormonism was an unpredictable factor in the race, and Romney chose not to push it.
Of course, Flowers could argue part of the problem is Romney didn't explain his religion enough. If only he talked about it more and corrected misconceptions, maybe the one in five Americans skeptical of the religion would have come around.
Romney actually was prepared to be more open about Mormonism in 2016. In January, when he was weighing a possible third presidential bid, his son Tagg told the Post that "he would be much more willing to open up and share who he is" in a 2016 campaign by talking about the values his church taught him. By then, Romney had already started talking about the importance of spirituality in his life during a speech at church-owned Brigham Young University in November. Sure, it was a friendly crowd, but he was owning it.
There's evidence that a third run would have been more friendly to Romney's religion, too. According to data compiled in Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics, by David Campbell, John Green, and Quin Monson, the percentage of voters who said they wouldn't vote for a Mormon went up as media mentions of Mormonism went up in the New York Times...
... but by 2012, stories mentioning Mormonism dropped dramatically (2008 was also the year the Church supported Proposition 8 in California, another possible reason for the spike then).
Although this data only tracked the New York Times, it's a trend that occurred elsewhere, and it makes a lot of sense. By the time Romney ran in 2012, there was less about his religion that was novel to write and read about. If he was running today, it's possible his faith would be even less of an issue.
So, yes, Flowers is right: Romney would probably admit he wasn't the best ambassador for Mormonism in 2012, and he had plenty of reasons to be weary. But Romney's candidacy also means that the next time a Mormon runs for president, enough Americans will be familiar enough with the religion that he or she might not have to answer the same questions ... or be an ambassador.