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First Look at Romney's Speech

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. -- Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's campaign has sent out excerpts of the speech on religion and politics that he will deliver later Thursday morning at the George Bush presidential library.

Romney pledges that, if elected president, he will be guided by moral and religious convictions, but will serve the common good and not one religious denomination or creed He decries the diminishment of religion in the public square and says he and millions of other Americans "welcome our nation's symphony of faith."

"When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God," Romney will say, according to the excerpts. "If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."

The speech comes at a critical moment in the presidential campaign, as the former governor is focused on winning early tests in Iowa and New Hampshire. His once-healthy lead in Iowa has disappeared in the face of a surge by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, who has the solid support of many evangelical Christians in the state.

Many evangelicals express suspicion or outright hostility toward the Mormon religion and Romney has been urged to attempt to explain or demystify the church?s beliefs as a way to soften opposition. But in the excerpts, he makes clear he will not take that road.

"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines," he says. "To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."

The former governor stresses that Americans are bound by moral convictions that transcend any single denomination or faith and says those beliefs are what should guide a president. "Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people," he says.

Romney's speech is being compared to the one John F. Kennedy gave before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in September 1960 as he was seeking to become the first Roman Catholic ever elected president. But in one important way, there is a difference. Both Romney and Kennedy stressed the importance of the separation of church and state, but Romney argues that it has been carried too far.

"No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion," Romney says. "But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America -- the religion of secularism. They are wrong."

Romney argues that faith in God and religion were central in the thinking of the Founding Fathers. "The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust."

Kennedy opened his speech to the Baptist ministers by noting that there were far weightier matters before the country in 1960 than the question of his religion. Romney puts the role of religion in a more central place in the politics of the nation.

"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us," he says. "If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom."

He says America should continue to "acknowledge the Almighty," whether on currency, in the Pledge and during the holiday season, and he criticizes those judges who have sought to do otherwise. "Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests," he says. "I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty."

Romney also makes several family references to highlight how religion has infused his public and private behavior. He recalls his father, former Michigan governor George Romney, marching with Martin Luther King Jr., during the civil rights movement.

He talks about his wife Ann and their five sons and says the values they sought to instill are those common to all Americans of faith. "These convictions will inform my presidency," he says.

Romney and his advisers have spent months debating whether and when he should deliver it. A full team of advisers accompanied Romney to Texas for the event and his campaign treated the preparations in the way White House or state house officials treat a major presidential or gubernatorial address.

--Dan Balz.

By Post Editor  |  December 6, 2007; 9:37 AM ET
 
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Comments

You know, when we are faced with a religious circumstance, we seem to go into a delirum. I really hope (and Pray) that we do not get into some religious test for our political leadership. I think that religious leaders in the world often make the absolute worst political leaders. I certainly do not want some principle in my Protestant Faith to start being the focus for my future president. I do hope that his backggound shows he has some competencies of leadership and effectiveness. I hope he will follow reasonable principles toward observing and conserving the Constitution of the United States for all the people. This, I think, can be done by men of many persuasions but probably cannot be done by someone of just one persuasion where the intent is to make everyone just like him. I think Mitt Romney can handle the job very well and there is nothing I have seen to indicate that he would attempt to make me a Morman nor to change the beliefs I have. He is a proven product in guiding organizations and government in the direction beneficial to all. All this ado about Mitt is a Red Herring and diverts our attention from the focus we should be making.

Posted by: michael | December 6, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It's no mystery to me why Mitt Romney picked the George H. W. Walker library to give his speech. Does anyone remember the former president's quote on atheists?

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

Romney says, "no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people," specifically mentioning civil rights. I know he's not pandering to the atheist vote, but really, co-opting civil rights as the exclusive domain of the religious?

The man's entitled to his faith, I have no problem with that, but do we have to have nothing but politics of exclusion in the U.S.?

Posted by: mvcorderito | December 6, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I think Mormons are just as Christian as Muslims.

Both acknowledge the Old Testament and regard Jesus as speaking for God.

Both have other texts they follow which say that Jesus is not the final Prophet.

It's that simple.

Posted by: WillSeattle | December 6, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I have yet to decide who will earn my vote in '08. That being said, given most of the cynical and mocking comments posted here, I believe Gov. Romney's speech is a classic example of casting pearls before the swine.

Posted by: victory06_rider | December 6, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Drafted in 1842, the 13 Articles of Faith of the LDS (Mormon) Church..

Pay particular note to 11, 12 & 13..

1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.

3. We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of
hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul--We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Posted by: mailbag | December 6, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The real question is -- as a voter which candidate best represents your views. I took the test based on what I wanted and Mitt Romney was #1. If his faith bothers you, ask yourself why? If he flip-flopped in the past...have you ever changed your mind once you gathered more information? For instance...I am for the right to bear arms, but I am also willing to ban assault rifles and doing a background check and a waiting period to buy a gun. So where does that put me...it doesnt go along with the NRA and it doesnt go the far left. My vote is for Romney because he will represent my views as a US citizen.

Posted by: larryndennis | December 6, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Romney's Mormonism: It's Not About Religion -- It's About Ethics and Behavior. Here are the four questions we need to ask... http://www.onecitizenspeaking.com/2007/12/romneys-mormoni.html

Posted by: onecitizenspeaking | December 6, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

OK Mr. Balz, you have done it one time too many! Now, like one of the Nuns in my Elementary School, I am going to take a ruler to your Hands!

Mike Huckabee is a FORMER Baptist Minister, who ABANDONED his Flock! THAT, is NOT a very comendable thing! STOP calling him an Ordained Baptist Minister-HE IS NOT!

Ruthie Giuliani, calls Himself a Catholic, and tries to call Himself a Republican. I do not know of many Catholic Priests who would give Communion to a Three time Divorcee! Giuliani is very good at claiming things he falls way short of standing up to!

Now, as I have said before, I judge Religious Faiths and the Followers, by their Actions, NOT their Proclamations!

If all Mormons were/are like Mitt Romney and his Family, I would say that the Mormon Faith has a very good standing!

As Mitt said in his speech, his family was Mormon. That is how he was brought up. HE has done a good job making his Father look Good!

I was brought up a Catholic, I try to do the same for My Father's Memory! I also try to be a Compliment to MY Faith!

But here is a clue for all the clueless, BOTH Catholics and Mormons are God of Abraham Worhipping Faiths, that were BOTH introduced well after the BEGINNING of worship of the one True GOD!

As such, who of any Faith, is supposed to somehow be superior to any other? Jesus is great. But Folks, Jesus worshipped GOD, not HIMSELF!

Excuuuuuse MEEEEEE, if I follow in Christ's footsteps on that one!

The HUGE amounts of Theological Accounts that were collected by Alexander the Great, and stored at the Library in Alexandria-That subsequently BURNED DOWN, were irreplaceable! All Faiths that Worship the God of Abraham suffered!

There is one thing I am pretty sure of though. Once, Initiates accepted each other, and got along. They gave each other credit for sharing the Faith, and spreading it amongst their people in a way God approved of!

Man's GREED, and LUST for POWER, WEALTH, and LAND, twisted Faith into a Fascist Device to aquire them! God does NOT approve!

Morality, is what it is all about. Good, decent moral behavior!

Posted by: rat-the | December 6, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Great speech. It'll be received well, though it probably won't do much to sway evangelicals who have real issues with other faiths.

Unbelievers and agnostics were left out of his America however. Secularists were even derided. Religion shouldn't matter, but he clearly believes it does. Sadly, the majority of Americans probably agrees with him.

We can only hope that one day America will be run by rational people with rational beliefs.

Posted by: max | December 6, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

A few impressions:

1. George H. W. Bush and Barbara giving an implied endorsement of Romney by hosting speech/photo op at GHWB Library.

2. The anti-Christian bias -- especially against Muslims (Islamists? Islamist jihadists? fundamental radical Islam?) that speaks volumes about his religious and ethnic intolerance, not to mention his ignorance of the Muslim world.

3. Romney's -- and most "Christian" politicians (as political label not religion)-- failure to grasp the not just the First amendment (freedom of religion), but the 6th (no religious test) as a precursor to holding office. One cannot claim that his religion guides everything he does, but that his religion won't influence decisions he makes as President, ESPECIALLY when running as a "Christian" (same disclaimer as above.) To wit, Romney's flip-flop on both gay marriage and abortion -- each based on his "religion" and not any real secular reason for prohibiting or restricting from individuals rights inherent (even if not specifically stated) in the Constitution. The abortion fight and gay discrimination -- heck, discrimination in all its forms -- is rooted solely in the religious beliefs of those who seek to limit the rights of others.

3. Given Mr. Romney's enormous predilection to change his mind as needed in order to be elected, (again gay rights, abortion, civil rights, healthcare, [the list continues]) is this speech really anything more than a poltical stunt designed to court evangelical voters? Did Romney have his fingers crossed, and we shouldn't believe a thing he says?

Having listened to his speech, I found it empty of real conviction and filled with vacuous phrases designed to pander to a Christian base, obscure his true motives (not beliefs), and fertilize the next round of Romney flip-flops.

To me, it was a speech with all the sincerity of a Jimmy Swaggert apology. Pass the popcorn...

Posted by: jade7243 | December 6, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"He says America should continue to "acknowledge the Almighty," whether on currency, in the Pledge and during the holiday season..."

So, can we expect under a Romney Presidency some sort of proclamations to recognize Ramadan, as well as other religious holidays/observances which do not happen to be Christian? If so, well- at least he is consistent. If not, well, gee, sounds a lot like he is saying "Hey, I'm a good Mormon, and Mormons are too Christians. Let me in the tent with you and we can all throw rocks at those outside- together."

Posted by: jhherring | December 6, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

You've gotta hand it to Mitt. He found a way to get some free television time.

Posted by: cubbyblue7 | December 6, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

First of all, there is no longer an infinite number of candidates to choose from. It is pretty clear that we will ultimately elect someone from the current field to be the next president.
At this point, the question should be, which candidate is the best prepared to make the decisions and that will be required during the next administration and who has the ability to garner wide support for his decisions.
I am one of those oddballs who actually watched the speech, and I was very impressed with the way Romney handled himself. No, I am not a Mormon, nor am I a Republican. However, I could see myself voting for Romney if he is the nominee.

Posted by: abbytallman | December 6, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I was sympathetic to Romney's plight, but no longer..nonbelievers are tellingly excluded from his nice metaphor of an American symphony. How over privileged must he be to be inspired by the cliche'd petty paranoia grounded on revisionism that would have him pledge to protect, not our jobs, our health, or even our lives, but of all things trivial, the Pledge. That's on par with protecting dead prophets from Teddy bears, flags from fires, marriage from Gays, to name just a few distractions that keep the GOP from facing reality.

Posted by: jhbyer | December 6, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to what a lot of you have said, I think Romney has made a remarkable effort to stay out of the religious fray. Huckabee has forced his hand with this crowd of evangelicals who would vote for a person based on their theology rather than their credentials.

I must say I have been fairly unimpressed with Mitt's flip flops and pandering. I had decided prior to his speech this morning, that I would probably not vote for him.

He made a very powerful speech today though. I was deeply moved by not only the content, but his sincere delivery. The guy has got some convictions and he definitely is not going to back down on them, even if it is unpopular with the evangelicals and the liberals.

Posted by: dallas.a.clement | December 6, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Rommney's problem with evangelical's and other republicans isn't that he's a Mormon. It's that he's a demagogue fip-flopper. Since Iowans aren't buying his nouveau-conservatism he's decided to wrap himself in the mantle of victimhood by religious bigots. Poor Mitt.

Posted by: conjk | December 6, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Governor Romney seemed to trample on the separation of church and state that is central to our constitution. That is very troubling.

Otherwise his speech seemed crafted to pander to (consultant-defined) religious right voters.

Posted by: bb829 | December 6, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

First of all this speech is a General Election speech... It was to historical and scripted he still comes of as stiff and scripted except when he almost started to cry at the end(shades of Muskie)begging almost for votes not speaking from the heart. He took on Huckabee when and Baptists and the religious right when he said " Some take religion TO FAR" that was a direct shot at Huckabee and the rest and does not help him with Christians in Iowa and he opens the door for Huckabee to respond give a speech of his own? All and All the speech doesn't live up to the billing and at 10;30 in the morning I wonder who watched it probably everyone in Utah and a couple hundred political junkies! The Huckabee surge continues!

Posted by: gfsurrette | December 6, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

He who gets to church first gets to church first. Amen Sister.

According to Romney Jesus was denied health care insurance so therefore should Americans.

Posted by: Maddogg | December 6, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

He has already said he would not have a Muslim in the cabinet....enough said - a religious test...all the rest is just pandering lies.

Posted by: gallaher | December 6, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

If you guys will pardon me, I prefer religion not being a factor in politics. I prefer my candidate to have sound ethical standards, yes, and if that came from a religious upbringing, fine. However, I expect my President to keep his religion to himself or herself and not govern from his/her knees. Everything I see about Romney and Huckabee chills my blood. I believe in God but I also believe St. Augustine was right when he said that one's religion is the most intimate layer of one's personality and not to be worn on one's sleeve.

Posted by: karenfern | December 6, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Stupid Christian Tricks, did you see the clip of the TV show "The View"?

I don't usually watch that henhouse, but the blonde Repuke bimbo is so stupid, she actually said that Jesus was the beginning of history and there weren't any civilizations before Jesus, not even the ancient Greeks.

These redneck Repuke idiots are too stupid to be Christians.

And Jesus was a long-haired hippy freak who would have been against torture.

Posted by: TomIII | December 6, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Ironic that Romney doesn't want voters imposing a religious test on him.

Because he's already stated he would impose a religious test on prospective Cabinet members. Remember? No Mooslims in Mitt's cabinet.

Mitt the Hypocrite.

Posted by: TomIII | December 6, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Shorter Mitt Romney: Let's not talk about how odd and creepy my religion is. Instead, let's all join hands and insult non-religious people.

Posted by: a_lafollette | December 6, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The entire state of Utah is a great example of how "separate" religion and the state are in the US. Utah was founded by Mormons for the express purpose of creating a state haven where Mormonism could be practiced freely as the other states would not tolerate it.

Romney did say that he would be putting his hand on the Bible if he were to take a presidential oath, I think he ought to include the Book of Mormon as well, if he wants to be true to himself.

Mr. Romney, please don't compromise your own religious beliefs as you espouse religious freedom.

Posted by: g-lo | December 6, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

You said it, Blarg. There's no such thing as Generic God, "Judeo-Christian tradition," or abstract "faith." If you are a member of a church, you are required to hold a very specific set of beliefs, one of which is generally to believe that all other churches are wrong and that their members are damned unless they come over to your way of thinking. The LDS Church holds that it is the one true faith, as do most other churches. Either Romney respects all *people*, regardless of their beliefs, or he doesn't.

Posted by: twatson12 | December 6, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

At 10:43 AM I am into the speech and my first, very first inspiration, my first intuition is that it all sounds like one of those Bush-type, Rove directed staged audiences where they know when to roar... and roar they have at times when there was not a tectonic shift, but mere manipulation. I am not buying in to it and I am not securing the cups in the china cabinet for I fear not tremble. Nuke Romney needs to talk about the worlds largest Mennorah (SP), then re-affirm his allegiance to the CFR and the NAU, NWO--that is his base. It is not the America firsters! www confidentialsources com

Posted by: abroadventure | December 6, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

It's not a speech
It's a phrase collection
three or four words
like on a teleprompter
broken up by pauses
is this the way
he usually speaks?
It's difficult to breath
when listening to
someone who sounds
so short of breath.

Posted by: RossPhx | December 6, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"Has she ever read about Sodom and Gomorrah?"

Sodom and Gomorrah are so 'BC'. After Jesus's crucifixion, everything changed.

Posted by: bsimon | December 6, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God," Romney will say, according to the excerpts.


I would find it far more comforting if a Presidential candidate viewed this oath as their highest promise to the American People, rather than as a promise to God.

Posted by: bsimon | December 6, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm not too sure why Romney has to "justify" anything to anyone.

Has anyone thought of asking Hillary Clinton how despite being an avid church goer, she's for gay and lesbian rights? Has she ever read about Sodom and Gomorrah?

Has anyone questioned her "pro Israel" stance and willingness to defend Israel while being married to a draft dodger?

Has anyone asked Rudy about how he reconciles his religious beliefs with his skirt chasing habits, his "I get paid thousands of dollars" speeches, and his support for abortion rights?

Pitiful!

Posted by: ita8111 | December 6, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Romney is making two points, which completely contradict each other.

1. His religion isn't important, because the presidential race isn't about religion. And it's un-Constitutional to make him explain his religion, because that's a religious test. He won't be the Mormon president; he'll just be president.

2. Religion is extremely important in politics. We should make religion a major part of every aspect of America. The president's job is to be high priest, who receives "prayers from people of all faiths".

How ridiculous! If religion is important in public life, then the specifics of Romney's religion matter. If religion isn't important, then there's no reason for him to constantly talk about it. He's trying to have it both ways, pretending that being religious is all that matters, no matter what the religion is. I can't imagine how this speech could help him.

Posted by: Blarg | December 6, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Oh when will the rapture come? Half of these charlatans will rise up to meet Jesus and the other half will jump off a cliff in shame for being left behind. Amerika faces some real problems. These are "roll up your shirtsleeves" problems not who is holier problems. After the rapture, we might get some real work done down here.

Posted by: willandjansdad | December 6, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"...diminishment of religion in the public square."!?!

Heck, read Kennedy's speech in 1960. These reporters who are calling this a Kennedy moment obviously haven't. Back when the U.S.A. was aware and proud of its greatness, we didn't hang everything on public displays of kooky superstitions.

Posted by: LeRiverend | December 6, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I could care less if he's a Mormon or not. But by pandering to the religious right in his zeal to put 1950's anti-communist slogans from empty school-house pledges and on our monetary mammon into his campaign pledges, let me be the first former Mormon to say he lost my vote. AS if he really ever had it. Nice flip flop again, Mitt.

And I do have a followup question: Which GOD is it you're talking about? Elohim? Jehovah? Zeus? Krishna? Mohammed? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Posted by: mireland1 | December 6, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I dreamed that I was able to ask Huckabee, or even Romney what they think about l.a.w. In doing so the true test of who can out Jesus Jesus would fill the air with spirit. Just what do they think about l.a.w. which is Lied About War. I sure would like to get that New Testament BIBLE verse that backs-em-up, for I can not find it there, yet it seems to be a Preamble to the Neo-Con bible and the CFR's. But folks their bible don't start with a capital B. www theradioavenger com said this-- in Christ Name he did.

Posted by: abroadventure | December 6, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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