Marco Rubio would be problematic for Mitt Romney for many reasons. There's the small matter of his embellishments around the story of his parents' immigration from Cuba. There is the question of his free-wheeling ways with money that wasn't his. He pals around with wife beaters, and sometimes even hires them. But all of that would probably not stop Willard from considering Rubio for the ticket, because after the shameless pandering he has done on immigration, he needs to boost his image in the Latino community with someone they might relate to.
However, I wonder how Hispanics would react if they knew Marco Rubio was a Mormon. Now he may not be Mormon in good standing at this time, but he was baptized into the Mormon Church and was active there until he returned to the Catholic Church at age 13. Via Buzzfeed:
Rubio was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his family at around the age of eight, and remained active in the faith for a number of years during his early youth, family members told BuzzFeed.
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant confirmed the story to BuzzFeed. Conant said Rubio returned to the Catholic church a few years later with his family, receiving his first communion on Christmas day in 1984 at the age of 13.
The revelation adds a new dimension to Rubio's already-nuanced religious history—and could complicate his political future at a time when many Republicans see him as the odds-on favorite for the 2012 vice presidential nod. Vice presidential candidates are traditionally chosen to provide ethnic and religious balance to a ticket. Mitt Romney's Mormonism and Rubio's Catholic faith would already mean the first two members of minority traditions on a Republican ticket in American history. Rubio's Mormon roots could further complicate that calculation.
I might shrug at this story were it not for the fact that it was Marco himself who persuaded his family members (except his father) to also join the church and be baptized.
As the family patriarch toiled to support his wife and children, Michelle said Marco—or "Tony" as the family calls him, after his middle name Antonio—stepped in at a very young age as a natural leader in the family. Smart, confident, and slightly stubborn, Rubio was skilled at persuading his siblings, cousins and even his mother to see things his way, Michelle said.
"I think we always thought he'd be something because he had a big mouth, and he was very bossy," she said. "He could convince his mom to do anything."
And for a number of years during his early adolescence, that meant enthusiastically encouraging participation in his family's new church.
Despite Rubio's later return to the Catholic church when the family moved to Florida, he remains on the rolls of the Mormon church. As much as everyone wants to shrug off the influence of faith in politics, one look at the headlines for the last two weeks should speak to their relevance. If Mitt Romney wants to bring Marco Rubio onto his ticket as running-mate, it's fair to ask exactly which religion Rubio will adopt given his chameleon-like, somewhat roving eye when it comes to faith and churches.
In Las Vegas he convinced his family to become Catholic. In Miami, he convinced them all to return to Catholicism. Now he occasionally attends a Baptist church. That is, of course, his choice and he's welcome to do it but it certainly changes the landscape with regard to what voter bloc he would bring to the ticket.
Marco Rubio has had a consistent struggle with the truth when it comes to who he is. He's an exile until he's not. He's a Catholic except for the time he was a Mormon. It seems to me that Marco Rubio is an ever-shifting creature, changing to fit his circumstances in that time for that group without ever internalizing a belief structure he actually believes. From a political standpoint, it plays well at a distance, but up close it just might be dangerous. Very dangerous.