Romney’s “Faith in America”– A Mormon Speech?

By December 4, 2007

The blogosphere is abuzz with the news that Romney has finally announced that he will be giving his long-awaited, much-anticipated “Mormon Speech” this Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. Thus, the question is no longer “Will Romney give the speech?” or “When will he give the speech?” but “What will he say?” and further, is it actually going to be a “Mormon” speech? The speech, titled “Faith in America,” leaves Romney open to speak on much more than Mormonism, and statements from Romney  suggest that Romney plans to speak more generally of the religious heritage of America: “I can tell you I’m not going to be talking so much about my faith as I am talking about the religious heritage of our country and the role which I think religion should play in our society,” Romney reportedly stated in an interview with WBZ-AM.

Further statements seem to hint at a more direct explanation of Mormonism, but remain somewhat ambiguous. “I will also talk about how my own values and my own faith will inform my thinking if I were lucky enough to become president of the United States.” Does his “faith” refer to Mormonism, or more generally to his personal relationship with Jesus as his savior?

The question thus remains: How much, if any, of his speech will address Mormonism directly? And how much should it? Thoughts? Speculations?

Article filed under Miscellaneous


Comments

  1. I’m nervous. If he does choose to address Mormonism directly, I hope he doesn’t stumble over his words and make less-than-careful comments (like he’s done when asked about his faith in debates and interviews).

    Comment by Christopher — December 4, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

  2. I’d like to think that his speech writers will have ample time to prepare a speech that doesn’t botch Romney’s Mormonism. It’s the Q&A time (if there is one) that worries me.

    Comment by David Grua — December 4, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  3. Do you think that there is anything to Romney’s timing on speech? I got the impression early in his campaign that Romney did not want to give this speech. Why is he choosing to give the religion speech now? Is it slipping polls in Iowa or is it just the perfect time to lay it on the table and hopefully ride the wave through the primaries?

    I personally lean towards the latter. Romney knows that everyone has wanted to hear this speech from the beginning of his campaign. This is free media for him.

    Comment by John — December 4, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  4. According to this story the timing has something to do with Iowa and his lost lead there.

    Comment by Jared — December 4, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  5. Timing and the Huckabee surge may play a part, but I wonder about the venue. considering the Iowa caucuses this month, I would have thought that Council Bluffs/Winter Quarters would have been a good venue and backdrop to talk about his Mormon heritage. Might have created a little more interest in the background and favorable press coverage, IMO, talking about the sacrifice of the pioneers, persecuted for their beliefs, and maybe put the evangelicals on the defensive for a change.

    Comment by kevinf — December 4, 2007 @ 5:11 pm

  6. Pundits almost all seem to feel the timing has to do with Huckabee’s having pulled ahead in Iowa. Romney has been planning (though hesitantly) on eventually giving this speech for awhile and states that he decided last week that now is the time. Speculation is that the location is to link it to the JFK speech which was in Houston. Romney has stated that he does not plan on giving another JFK speech but will speak on what he feels should be the role of faith in American public life.

    Comment by stan — December 4, 2007 @ 9:11 pm

  7. Huckabee is playing the obvious “Romney (Mormon) isn’t Christian and I am” card – and it appears to be working among evangelicals. I have said from day one that this speech will be among the most difficult to write in the history of American politics. If he says he’s Christian, evangelicals might jump allover him; if he doesn’t, Mormons AND evangelicals might claim he is avoiding or denying his religion. Part of me would LOVE to write it, while the larger part isn’t sure I could pull it off and is sure I would derail his chance to be elected.

    Personally, I wouldn’t give it as a “Mormon” speech. I would schedule the speech and make it an “anti-my-religion” speech – saying, essentially, “I’m not going to play this game. If I am going to be required to define and defend my religious beliefs and denomination, I challenge every candidate to do the same – in a televised, communal forum. Every candidate can have 5 minutes to explain his or her beliefs and how those beliefs will affect the presidency. Under those circumstances, I will explain my beliefs. Now, for the rest of this speech, I will address my view of the role of faith in America.”

    Comment by Ray — December 5, 2007 @ 12:20 am

  8. I have mixed feelings on it. Part of me thinks it is a great opportunity to increase the religious literacy of a pluralistic nation by addressing some of the questions that keep popping up regarding Mormonism. (Maybe this is more of an academic interest of my own which might not be a big priority strategically.) But if Romney were to give an explanation of Mormon beliefs, he might be playing right into fears that he might use the public forum to promote his beliefs or proselyte for the Church, or that the prominence of his position would do so by default (maybe these aren’t widespread fears, but a few evangelical ministers seem to worry along these lines). I don’t know that it would really distance him from any potential voters though, but may open him up to further criticisms, and I don’t think he is really obligated to do so–why should he? I don’t know what he could say to please his loudest critics. I’m beginning to feel that the course he is taking may be best, as much as I’d like to hear a direct response to the Mormon question/problem/curiosity.

    Comment by stan — December 5, 2007 @ 7:58 am

  9. One of the talking heads on the cable news networks made a great point the other night, saying that if Romney did not talk about Mormonism, but rather just faith in America in general, then what is the point? Americans, and particularly Republican voters, are not put off by Romney’s general views on religion in the public sphere. Those views are rather compatible I think. Rather, they are put off because of his particular religious/doctrinal views. This is a lost cause if he does not address Mormonism directly and frequently.

    Comment by AHLDuke — December 5, 2007 @ 11:37 am

  10. Romney’s speech will be aired on FOX13 at 8:30 am MST (for those in the Mountain West) and will be streaming live at http://www.ustream.tv/ and ksl.com (it’s at 10:30 EST)
    I thought I read somewhere that CNN was covering it but haven’t been able to confirm that–anyone know?

    Comment by stan — December 5, 2007 @ 8:35 pm


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