Mitt Romney's not-so-secret elves

It's no secret that David and Nancy French have been supporters of Mitt Romney and want other evangelicals to join with them. They even built a website in 2006 around the idea. Time magazine just discovered the couple, though, and they want you to know about it.

Nancy and David French, a couple from Columbia, Tenn., are perhaps the most visible evangelical supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

It's difficult to measure visibility, but I'm surprised the article doesn't mention Mark DeMoss, an advisor to the campaign and the head of a public relations firm. As you read the rest of the piece, it's worth considering the reporter's choice of words, including contradictory descriptions (bolded words are my own).

Though David and Nancy French deny it, campaign finance experts say the couple’s group looks like a thinly disguised extension of the Romney campaign.

...Indeed, what is perhaps most interesting about Evangelicals for Mitt is how apparent its links to Romney Central are.

I'm just not sure how secretive this is, considering they have written about this for five years.

The Frenchs are also quietly linked to two wealthy Romney donors in Massachusetts, John Kingston and Kurt Keilhacker, and all four have close ties to Romney’s campaign funding organization through a web of companies and nonprofits.

The article goes on to reveal what the reporter has found on their networks and where they might be getting money. It's good for reporters to do some background checking, looking at what finances are going where. But sometimes if you include all of your research in an article, you look like you think something is dubious even if you can't exactly pinpoint what.

Here's what David French has to say in a post at Patheos:

We disclosed on Evangelicals for Mitt that Nancy worked with Ann on a book project and worked for the campaign in 2008 to get Mitt on the ballot in Tennessee. Heck, I’ve told the same thing to reporters for years.

As for the “quiet linkage” to John Kingston and Kurt Keilhacker, all I can say is the linkage is so quiet that we put it on a website (note to Nancy: please update our bios and pictures!)

There's also a brief, unsubstantiated line in the piece.

David and Nancy French come from modest means.

Even French disputes the suggestion.

As an aside, the “modest means” line made me laugh. In actuality, we’re blessed by any reasonable measure. (I liked one Facebook friend’s line: ”You went to Harvard Law School but are of modest means. Does this make you the Wal-Mart 1%?”).

Besides, I'm slightly surprised the piece doesn't note that Nancy French co-authored Bristol Palin's memoir. Finally, the piece makes a sweeping statement about the couple's advocacy.

If Gingrich continues to win that crucial evangelical voting bloc, Romney, ever the victim of evangelical caution towards Mormonism, may have to rely on David and Nancy French more than ever.

You would think Romney has run for president at least 10 times. Yes, he probably faces some cautious voters in the primaries, but what about Pew's recent numbers showing that support for him during a general election could surge? Here's how French puts it.

This qualifies as perhaps the most astonishing overstatement of our abilities I’ve ever read. If we were as effective as we wanted to be, Newt Gingrich wouldn’t be winning over the “crucial evangelical voting bloc.”

...Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my lavishly-funded pro-Mormon evangelical conspiracy meeting.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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