The other morning I heard a radio talk-show host opine that for Romney to break out of the low poll numbers, he would need to address the fact of his Mormonism head-on. The host said that Romney should give the nation a short-course in Mormonism. Perhaps he meant that conservative unease with the thought of a Mormon president was due to fear of the unknown.

But fear of the unknown is not the problem. Southern evangelicals are in a battle for converts with Mormon missionaries, the nearly ubiquitous pairs of neatly dressed young men and women who can be seen walking or bicycling through suburbs everywhere. In the South especially, Mormons present themselves very much as the church of God and country, patriotism and traditional morality. Local Southern Baptists feel the Mormon missionaries are stealing their best lines. In Sunday School classes and from pulpits conservative church-goers are warned against "the cults;" that list includes Mormonism.

For Romney to address his Mormonism explicitly in a high-profile way carries a great political risk. So long as conservative Christians don't think about his religion, Romney could seem an attractive candidate. But if he were to address his religion in an attention-getting fashion, tens-of-thousands of evangelicals will get the heebie-jeebies. They have been primed to react this way.

And, there is another reason for Romney not to give the address the radio host called for. Trying to explain Mormonism, even in a short course, will involve the now-you-see-them, now-you-don't Golden Plates, the belief that "God" is Adam-become-the-god-for-this-world, that any male Mormon potentially can become a god with his own world, that there are a potentially infinite number of gods, that women reach a place in paradise based on the achievements of their man, etc. The buzz generated by a Romney Mormonism speech will bring up not just polygamy, but also holy underwear, the former ban on black priests, and the "history" of North America that contradicts everything anthropology and archealogy teaches. He would risk alienating many beyond the evangelical base whose reaction might be, "that's just plain weird."

I don't think Romney has a snowball's chance to capture the 08 Republican nomination.