Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has settled upon an unusual—but not completely unfamiliar—strategy for deflecting media scrutiny of his membership in the Mormon Church.

Some clever campaign worker suggested: substitute the word “Jew” for “Mormon” in that news story.

Reporters at The New York Times and The Washington Post both picked up on the spin last week. On the coasts, linking bias against Mormons to bias against Jews is a mind-blowing novelty.

But in Utah, it’s a fetish, where comparisons between the faith of Joseph Smith and the faith of Abraham are universal. It’s a measure of the Mormon faithful’s affinity for all things Old Testament that they keep baptizing Jews after they die to add them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ flock. And Sunday schools everywhere are filled with juxtapositions of persecution tales—Jewish and Mormon. It’s no accident that the LDS call those not of their faith “Gentiles.” So do the Jews. And Mormons challenge Evangelical Christians for status as the most hawkishly pro-Israel in their politics.

The Romney camp’s verbal flip is masterful—and not off-point. Journalists would never inject “Jew” or “Catholic” before the clauses they connect to the former Massachusetts governor. Just one example from Romney Spokeswoman Andrea Saul, protesting a Washington Post literary reduction: Imagine writing that Romney “was far from the only young and brilliant Jew on Harvard’s campus.”

While a light bulb seems to have gone off at the papers of record, for those in Romney’s religious fold, the Republican presidential nominee is just returning to their tradition.