David Axelrod needs to make voters nervous about Mitt Romney‘s private devotion to Mormonism without overtly attacking the man’s religion. So Axelrod came up with a “dog whistle” attack using Romney’s “penchant for secrecy” minus the words religion or Mormon. The MSM quickly spotted the opening, including CNN hit man Jack Cafferty.

This was just a theory April 16 when Politico’s Mike Allen headlined his Morning Joe report with Axelrod’s attack on Romney’s secrecy (video below). Allen repeated Axelrod’s examples – e.g., why did the Massachusetts governor remove his computer hard drive when he left office? Then, regular MJ guest Jon Meacham asked Allen, “‘Do you think this is a dog whistle message’ by Obama’s camp to circuitously bring up the Mormon church’s alleged secrecy?”

I wasn’t sure Meacham was on to Axelrod. But damn if I didn’t flip to CNN yesterday as Cafferty started: Mitt Romney is a Mormon. How much will it matter? … “Now, that Mitt Romney is the likely Republican nominee, he may need to begin talking about his Mormon faith.” … “a lot of Republicans think Romney should embrace his Mormonism publicly. …” I searched; more MSMers are abetting Axelrod:

The Washington Post blog entry on April 16 was just like my question: “Is Romney’s ‘secrecy’ a Mormon reference?“:

As Jon Meacham asked on “Morning Joe” Monday, “Is this code for the secrecy of the Mormon Church?”

Salon has “The ‘secrecy’ card

Democratic attacks on Romney’s lack of transparency arouse accusations of backdoor anti-Mormonism

The Washington Post has yet another post in its “On Faith” section: “How will Dems talk about Romney’s Mormonism?

By Georgetown/ On Faith

“As the Obama campaign makes the case that Romney is somehow weird, different some supporters of Romney will say that that is a dog whistle, that is a way to come near the religion issue. The Obama campaign will tell you they’re not going to touch it, they don’t poll on it, they don’t talk about it in focus groups because they know that it would blow up if they did and that got public.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: –Politico’s Mike Allen on the Obama campaign’s approach to Romney’s Mormon faith.
Read more in the Faith 2012 Quote Archives.

Hey. Is “Georgetown” code for Sally Quinn who, these days, prays a lot?

Whatever. Georgetown links to the Morning Joe video on Monday:

Back to Cafferty. His diatribe is too long to post but he sure teed it up well. Then he selected viewer responses:

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour, Mitt Romney is a Mormon. How much will it matter?

Bruce in New Jersey writes, “Mitt is a strange guy. He’s wishy-washy on his political views and he talks himself into trouble about every 10 minutes. He’s concrete on his religion, though, and yet he won’t openly discuss it. It makes no sense. Is he afraid of what America will think? It shouldn’t matter but we’d still like to see him address it or at least not dodge every question about what he believes.”

Ed in Texas writes, “Comedian Andy Borowitz nailed this with a satirical news headline that reads ‘Potential Matchup Between Black Man and Mormon Poses Dilemma for Bigots’.”

David in Virginia writes, “Being Mormon is if anything a major plus for someone who is swimming in our political shark tank. I’ve worked with a number of Mormons and have always found them to be highly honest, moral, skilled business people, hard working, pragmatic, clear-thinking, patriotic and committed to service and family values.”

Paul in Colorado writes, “Lots. Religion is the only thing Romney hasn’t flip-flopped on and I’m betting his Mormonism will be a big plus for his campaign just like Barack Obama’s race was for his. The only thing we Americans love more than our individual beliefs is showing how inclusive we can be. This is going to be interesting.”

Tom writes, “Romney’s faith doesn’t matter to thinking people, but it does matter that his own party seems to have so little faith in him.”

And Rick in Virginia writes, “I’m sorry. When I first read the question I thought it said Mitt Romney is a moron. If he’s president I believe he’ll put the middle class on the roof of his car and drive us all to Canada.” If you’d like to read more of this silliness, you’ll find it on my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM’s Facebook page — Wolf.

BLITZER: Silliness is a good word, Jack. Thanks very, very much.

Ha, ha.