Bob Jones University Dean Robert Taylor endorses Mitt Romney
HH: Tonight, I’m joined by Robert Taylor. He’s dean of the university college of Arts and Sciences at Bob Jones University. Dean Robert Taylor, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
RT: Good evening, sir. Glad to be here, and Bob will do fine.
HH: Okay, Bob. You made some big national news today when the Washington Wire of the Wall Street Journal put in there your intention to endorse Mitt Romney. Were you prepared for this much attention?
RT: I was not. I certainly was not.
HH: And what has the reaction been among your colleagues at Bob Jones University, and in other fundamentalist circles throughout the South and the broader country?
RT: Well, I think the people that I know, certainly, I think has been positive. Many of them were already supporting Governor Romney. I’ve gotten some good e-mails, and I’ve gotten a few that expressed disappointment.
HH: And what is the expression of disappointment about? That you’ve endorsed someone who’s a Mormon?
RT: Well, I think there are two aspects. Number one, they feel like the university has done something, my employer, Bob Jones University, and that is not true. The university doesn’t endorse anybody. I’ve been a political activist for over thirty years, and this was my personal decision. And the other thing was that somehow by endorsing Governor Romney for president, that I was somehow endorsing the Mormon religion. And obviously, the Governor and I would disagree on our religious beliefs, but I don’t think that takes away from the fact that I think he would make a great president.
HH: Now Dean Taylor, obviously, a lot of people have wondered whether Governor Romney could overcome, especially in the South, especially in conservative Evangelical and fundamentalist circles, the fact that he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Do you see that as a significant issue, or is it one that was and has dissipated?
RT: Well, I think it is an issue, but I think we have the ability to dissipate it, because if we just look at the abilities of the man, the unique abilities among all the candidates, and vote for those abilities and what he’s able to perform, instead of focusing solely on his religious beliefs.
HH: How widespread is the support for Romney among the faculty and staff at Bob Jones University? Just for me, obviously, it’s not scientific, but you’re the Dean, you talk to most of the professors and the staff there.
RT: Well, I think among those folks that are politically active, I would say he has a great deal of support. You know, a lot of people just don’t pay too much attention until it gets a little closer to the real thing. But you know, I feel confident that we’ll have a pretty good majority that would support him when the time comes.
HH: And would you describe your theology for the audience, Dr. Taylor, or Dean Taylor?
RT: Well, I’m an independent Baptist, and our doctrine is basically that we believe the Bible’s the inspired Word of God, that we’re sinners, and the only remedy for that is the blood of Jesus Christ, and accepting Christ as my Savior, I’m confident that he has forgiven me of my sins, and when I die, I’m going to go to Heaven.
HH: Now Dr. Taylor, when I wrote a book about Mitt Romney, A Mormon In The White House?, I encountered three different objections, generally, to him, based upon his faith. The first is that Salt Lake City would control the Romney presidency. You have no concerns about that?
RT: No, sir, I don’t. You know, he’s been a governor, his father was a governor. We’ve had Mormons in cabinet positions almost constantly in my lifetime. And you know, I have never seen or heard an accusation like that, I mean, where that actually played out in the lives of these men that held these high positions.
HH: The second is that a Mormon president would supercharge LDS missionary work. Your response to that?
RT: I just don’t see that. I don’t think he’s going to make that something he’s going to talk about. So I don’t see that happening, either.
HH: And then the third one is look, it’s just so odd, Mormon doctrine and history is so different from classical Christianity and the founding narrative of it, the Joseph Smith narrative, is so supernatural that it detracts from confidence in a candidate’s rationality. Your response to that?
RT: Well, I agree that the Mormon religion is certainly not something that I believe in, but you know, I don’t know that I can answer that for Mr. Romney. He grew up in a Mormon home. I don’t really know exactly what he believes with regard to many of the doctrines of the Mormon Church. And so it’s just, it’s not going to be an issue with me. If…I look at him as a man who has great accomplishments in the business world, and has shown the ability to solve very difficult problems by gathering together men of talent in the area of the problem, and putting together a team that comes up with good solutions. And to me, that’s a refreshing prospect, that we would have a man that would bring together this kind of talent outside of the normal inside the Beltway people that have been there all their lives, and have certain ways of solving problems that this man can bring a fresh approach. And I think that’s what this country needs.
HH: I’m talking with Dean Robert Taylor of Bob Jones University. Dean Taylor, there’s also a report on the web tonight that Bob Jones III, I guess the chancellor of the University, has also endorsed Mitt Romney. Are you familiar with that report? Is that correct?
RT: Well, you know, I just came from a county council meeting where I’m a council member, and I heard while I was at the meeting that he had come out, and a statement had come out from him. That was the first I heard about it, although I knew he was leaning in that direction, and probably would make a statement. That was my first…but it is true. That was just the first I heard about it.
HH: That’s interesting. And why didn’t Fred Thompson grab the support of the Evangelicals in South Carolina? We’ve only got about 45 seconds, Dean Taylor.
RT: Well, I don’t think that he personally showed the kind of enthusiasm, fire in the belly, as they say, for the job. I didn’t see any new, fresh ideas there. And that just turned out… I mean, I waited a long time to give him a chance for me, and I have many friends that support him, but I just didn’t see it, and went back to Mitt Romney.
HH: Dean Robert Taylor of Bob Jones University, thanks for spending some time with us late on this night when you were working as a county commissioner. I appreciate it very much.
End of interview.