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December 06, 2007

Romney's Faith Speech

I CONVERT! All hail Joseph Smith!

Kidding.

As readers know, I have my disagreements with Mormon theology, but I thought Mitt Romney delivered one of the best treatments on the role of faith and public office ever delivered by a presidential candidate. He vigorously defended religious liberty, and struck the right tone as to how a public figure's faith should influence, but not drive, his behavior in office.

The entire speech can be read here.

One of the first criticisms, and something I've already seen on discussion boards, is going to be that Romney did an inadequate job explaining the particulars of his faith. To that I would answer, no, but he did something much more interesting. In that speech, Romney tied his faith to the greater religious tradition in America and is asking for the same respect for Mormons that is enjoyed by other faiths. In a sense, this speech wasn’t aimed at evangelicals, but at the basic American sense of fair play.

I think Romney is smart enough to know he's not going to win over evangelicals, so he didn't turn this into a theological debate. The point of the speech wasn't to defend the Mormon faith, but find common cause with those who value faith. It wasn't a perfect attempt by any means - there were some lines that just fell flat, but it was a very good one.

Although it wasn't explicit, I also felt parts of this speech were intended to contrast his respect for other faiths with the rhetoric of Mike Huckabee, who has thus far been unwilling to speak out against anti-Mormon sentiment among his supporters. There was definitely a tone of "I respect the differences even if they don't return the favor." It was a very gentle calling-out of those who drive religious wedges. It will be interesting to see whether Romney now becomes the candidate of choice for Republicans who are uncomfortable with Huckabee's more, er, intrusive faith-based politics.

I'm not optimistic, but a guy can hope.

More Reax [Ace]: Over at Riehl and Michelle.

I don't have my cable working yet so I can't offer my typically lame and obvious "analysis."

Update [ace]: Video now up at Romney's campaign site.


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posted by Slublog at 01:42 PM

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