Addressing the 2012 graduating class of Liberty University today Mitt Romney enthused: “[W]hat the next four years might hold for me is yet to be determined. But I will say that things are looking up, and I take your kind hospitality today as a sign of good things to come.”
Things are looking up, especially after Barack Obama’s evolving views on same-sex marriage look like they are about to send fence-sitting conservative Christians charging into Romney’s arms.
So the presumptive GOP nominee’s main job today was to further exploit the opening granted to him by his opponent (Please note: I am not necessarily saying Obama was tactically mistaken in endorsing gay marriage. I am saying that the immediate benefits accrue to Romney).
With a friendly audience in front of him, Romney did what he had to do:
Winged words about Jerry Falwell, Sr: Check.
Hats off to evangelical fave Rick Santorum: Check.
Reminder that “marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”: Check.
Intimation that religious freedom is under assault: Check.
Christian triumphalism–as in “there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action”: Check.
Mentioning Ann Romney’s inspired mothering: Check.
Romney aced the easy track of the course. Then came the part of the speech with the highest degree of difficulty: dealing with the fact that some in his audience of evangelicals might have misgivings about his Mormon faith.
Romney made the correct move, calling attention to shared values, as opposed to theological differences:
People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology. Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.
The “common worldview” and “moral convictions” approach is exactly the route that I thought Romney needed to travel and he explored these themes effectively.
In all, it was a tidy performance for a candidate starting to consolidate his advantage with one of the nation’s most lucrative religious voting blocs.
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