June 8, 2012
By Lisa Riley Roche
SALT LAKE CITY — For a job that's supposed to stay under the radar, former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt's new position with the Mitt Romney campaign is attracting a lot of attention.
Leavitt is leading the campaign's new "Readiness Project," an effort to prepare for the transition to a Republican administration should Romney win the presidency in November. The former governor and member of President George W. Bush's cabinet is also being touted as a top choice for chief of staff of a President Romney.
Romney's campaign first acknowledged the transition effort in an article in Politico, stressing it would be irresponsible for Romney "to not have people preparing for this possibility behind the scenes."
Such planning is typical in a presidential race, but candidates downplay the planning to avoid appearing presumptuous about the outcome of the election....
Matthew Wilson, a professor who specializes in politics and religion at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, noted Leavitt's faith was not an issue when he worked in the Bush cabinet.
"It's very different if you're talking about a vice presidential nominee or someone nominated to the Supreme Court," Wilson said, because that could be seen as attempting to empower someone who shares the faith.
A chief of staff is viewed differently, he said. "I'm pretty sure 99.9 percent of Americans would have no idea what the religion of the last 10 chiefs of staff have been."