Mitt Romney, who addresses the National Republican Convention this evening, will be the first Mormon to accept the presidential nomination of a major political party.

Romney has had difficulty connecting to the American electorate, partly a product of his personality and wealth. But there’s also his religion, one that some on the religious right (and on the mainstream left, for that matter) view with suspicion.

But Utah Sen. Mike Lee says that while he’s “thrilled” to see a Mormon nominee, he emphasized in an interview that the common bond is Romney’s belief in America, not his religious values.

“I’m thrilled to see a Mormon as our nominee for the presidency and I think he’s an especially good candidate,” he said. “The important thing here is not his religion so much as it is his belief in America. Not everybody is going to share his religious beliefs, but Americans overwhelmingly share his belief in American exceptionalism, share his belief in the rule of law, share his belief that it’s the people, not the government that has made this country great.”