Before Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was an outspoken Catholic, he was a faithful Mormon.
An exclusive Buzzfeed story has uncovered a little-known fact about the rising Republican star, who is on every short list for the vice presidential nomination. Rubio's family members and Rubio spokesman Alex Conant confirmed that Rubio was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 8 while they lived in Nevada. He attended the church with his family for a few years.
The freshman senator's cousins say it was Rubio who convinced his family to convert to Catholicism. He currently identifies as a conservative Roman Catholic but attends a non-denominational Baptist church in Florida.
Mormonism has faced a considerable amount of chatter and skepticism during this presidential election cycle, particularly because former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has been the front-runner for most of the race, is of the same faith. According to a Pew poll, 47 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 31 percent of all Americans say that Mormonism is not a part of the Christian religion.
Rubio's aides appear to be worried about the story because publishers from Rubio's upcoming book, An American Son, released excerpts that mention his short-lived Mormonism to the Miami Herald shortly after Buzzfeed sent inquiring e-mails to the freshman senator's office.
Also, is Romney less likely to tap Rubio as a vice president because of his Mormon background? Presidential candidates generally tend to pick running mates with different backgrounds.
But the former Massachusetts governor probably won't cross Rubio off his list just because he was Mormon for a few years.
For one, The Washington Post's Rachel Weiner points out that according to another poll, 91 percent of white evangelical Republican voters said they would back Romney if he is the nominee despite his religion.
And although Rubio has never mentioned his Mormon phase when discussing his faith in the past, two factors make the fact somewhat irrelevant: 1) his adult religious life probably takes precedence over he childhood religious life and 2) he has been very outspoken about his Catholic faith since, citing it as the way he views the world.
Marco Rubio should touch lightly on this and move on. It's just really not a big deal - except maybe in that his experiences as a member of LDS probably give him a perspective and understanding of Mormonism the rest of us lack, writes Tina Korbe of the conservative blog Hot Air.
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