Reading Washington Times tea leaves

scarletmitt 1 It's true. One of the reasons people inside and outside the Beltway read The Washington Times is to find out what Republican strategists are thinking. It's interesting to find out what makes it into the official GOP talking points and what does not. I always see the Times before I see The Washington Post, for the simple reason that I live in a blue-collar neighborhood on the south side of Baltimore that is not considered ritzy enough for home delivery of the Post. One will often see events in the Republican world in one of these papers and not in the other, and you can guess which is which.

So it was interesting to note this headline today in the Times, atop a story filed from Los Angeles by Christina Bellantoni: "Romney golden to GOP in blue state." It states the obvious about the charismatic Gov. Mitt Romney:

Mr. Romney is eyeing a White House bid as he finishes his last few months in the Massachusetts governor's mansion, and made his case to state party activists this weekend at the California Republican Convention. They loved him -- cheering wildly for a stump speech that closely resembled a stand-up routine and later praising him as someone with the right kind of fiscal and conservative values.

"He's got the charisma Kennedy had and the morals we wish Kennedy would have had," said Republican Donee Chabot of Los Angeles, who works in real estate.

But I was also struck by this obvious paragraph:

Another Republican privately worried Mr. Romney's Mormon faith would be a deterrent. The activist said Mormonism will be a difficult thing for the nation to get behind, a tougher religion to sell than President Kennedy's Catholicism.

Now, where do you think Bellantoni -- or her editors -- played this interesting statement? Is there, or is is there not, some symbolism in this placement?

Just asking. In terms of journalism and story structure, it seemed rather strange to me.

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