When we talked a couple of weeks ago about Glenn Beck playing a feature role at a Texas fundraiser for Mitt Romney, it was the first time I'd thought about the extremist media personality in a long while. In 2010, the question was, "Glenn Beck, is that guy for real?" In 2012, it's become, "Glenn Beck, is that guy still around?"
The answer, apparently, is that Beck is still very much around, and despite his unhinged antics and twisted conspiracy theories, he's been sought out by the Republican presidential hopeful.
Mr. Beck has emerged as an unlikely theological bridge between the first Mormon presidential nominee and a critical electorate.... Mr. Beck's unique position as both a Mormon and a prominent voice among evangelicals has been too tempting for Mr. Romney's campaign to pass up. Campaign officials have quietly courted Mr. Beck, according to a person briefed on his meetings with campaign surrogates who could not discuss private conversations publicly. [...]
Last month, Mr. Beck, along with former Vice President Dick Cheney and Mr. Romney's son Josh, headlined a Dallas fund-raiser that brought in more than $250,000 for the Romney Victory committee, and on Friday Mr. Beck held a rally in Columbus, Ohio, intended to influence voters in that swing state. On Saturday, he attended Mr. Romney's rally in Dubuque, Iowa.
Though you may not have seen pictures of Romney and Beck literally embracing, let's not forget that Romney singled out Beck for praise in 2009, calling the bizarre media personality "my friend and a statesman in his own right."
So, let's be clear about the larger context. Fox News parted ways with Glenn Beck, in large part because the network saw him as a loon who undermined the Republican brand. But Mitt Romney, the candidate some in the media still consider a "moderate," sought out Beck to play a role in his campaign, and considers him a "statesman."
If voters judge a candidate by the company he keeps, Romney's friendship with Beck and Donald Trump raise some curious questions about the Republican's judgment.