Mitt Romney, never a particular favorite with evangelicals or the youth, attempted to court both groups today with his commencement speech at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where students are not allowed to do interesting things with their hair (or anything else, really.) The candidate’s address to the Class of 2012 included a rare acknowledgement of Mormonism, which he trotted out as part of an effort to convince born-again Christians that he’s more like them than not, mostly in that they both don’t like gay marriage and other depraved stuff like that:
“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,” Romney said.
“Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview,” he said.
“Culture matters,” Romney said. “As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”
Romney’s speech mentioned a wide range of Christian figures, including Pope John Paul II, C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr., and the recently deceased Chuck Colson. He also brought up former rival Rick Santorum (a Catholic, yes, but popular among the Liberty University set), who apparently showed him a study from the Brookings Institution that, unsurprisingly, suggested a link between “family values” and success in life.
The address seems to have gone over well enough with its intended audience. Richard Land, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Politico, “If I were him that’s exactly what I would have said. I would have acknowledged the difference in theology and not try to win the argument that we all believe in the same God because we don’t.”