- (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
A recent poll discovered that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a top pick for the GOP vice presidential candidate – regardless of who ends up winning the presidential nomination. But could his Mormon roots disturb his momentum and keep him off the ballot?
Two of Rubio's cousins told BuzzFeed.com that the senator was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints when he was 11-years-old. This is something Rubio has never made mention of himself.
Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio, confirmed the cousins' report and told BuzzFeed.com that Rubio converted to Catholocism a few years after becoming Mormon along with his family. Rubio is still Catholic today and a spokesman for the senator told The New York Times that Rubio is a "practicing and devout Roman Catholic," adding that the senator "regularly attends Catholic Mass," and has been "baptized, confirmed and married in the Roman Catholic Church."
Although Rubio's involvement with the Mormon church was brief and during his childhood, it might be enough to stop his meteoric rise to GOP stardom, according to observers.
What if Mitt Romney wins the presidential nomination? A Mormon president with a former Mormon as vice president? Seems like an overly Mormon ticket that could have trouble defeating Obama in the fall, critics warn.
Before information on his Mormon past was released, things were looking very bright for Rubio's political future. Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind conducted a survey that revealed Rubio as a top vice presidential pick for the Republican Party.
The survey asked Republicans: "No matter who is the Republican nominee for president, if you could pick the vice presidential nominee who would it be?" The survey offered no choices, and participants were asked to write in their response. And the results showed that Rubio was the front-runner, with 8 percent choosing him as the republican vice presidential candidate. Rick Santorum followed closely behind with 7 percent, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in a close third at 6 percent.
Rubio has been gaining popularity left and right. The Florida senator is about to make an even bigger splash with an upcoming Time magazine cover story. In the feature, Rubio gives an in-depth interview discussing the GOP and immigration, Latino issues, and the 2012 election.
Could this new information about Rubio's childhood religion derail his momentum? Americans do not seem to have trouble accepting the idea of a Mormon leading the country, as evidenced by recent polls. A November 2011 poll from The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that although "many Americans continue to see the Mormon faith as unfamiliar and different," 91 percent of white evangelical Republican voters say they would back Romney over Obama in a general election matchup, and 79 percent would support Romney strongly.
However, many within the Christian community have been critical of Mormonism in light of Romney's presence in the GOP race. Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress called Mormonism a cult back in October, and recently, evangelist Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, said in an MSNBC interview that "Most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith."