After all, isn’t there a campaign adage of not getting involved in any controversy unless you absolutely have to?
The upcoming film is about the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, the first known act of religious terrorism on U.S. soil. The pic, starring Jon Voight and Dean Cain and directed by Christopher Cain, posits that Brigham Young had complicity in the massacre, a view denied that the Mormon Church denies.
Romney won’t comment, even after repeated calls from Bob Novak, who wrote a column on the whole matter last week, noting that in the movie Young is portrayed as a kind of “19th century Osama bin Laden.”
Novak wrote, “Mitt Romney surely is not responsible for Brigham Young, but questions about what kind of man Young was hurt his campaign. Romney has been described by many Republican insiders as the perfect candidate: magnetic, smart and with an excellent record as an executive. His greatest liability has been religious bias against him. He has never seized this issue, thinking it so wrongheaded that it will go away.”
“On a matter like that that’s not something he really addresses,” says a spokesman for the candidate. “That’s better off left to the church.”
But the church, too, has not commented on the movie, other than to express its position that Young was not complicit.
For its part, Romney’s campaign is eager to keep religion separate from the politics of ’08.
Said Romney’s spokesman: “He’s running for commander in chief, not pastor in chief.”
At the debate last week, for which Romney scored high marks, he said, “We don’t choose leaders based on what church they go to.”
Romney may have no reason to worry, as “September Dawn” is being released on June 22, a challenging environment for any movie that is not a franchise or a sequel. It already was pushed back from an opening last Friday, where it would have faced off against the “Spiderman” juggernaut.
—By John Clarke Jr. in New York.