How Romney wooed evangelicals

Jae C. Hong AP Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, bows his head in prayer before his commencement … Continued

Jae C. Hong


Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, bows his head in prayer before his commencement address at the Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va, Saturday, May 12, 2012.

This weekend Mitt Romney won the presidency, because he won the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans. If you are in the sizable minority immune to his message, you will not understand this, but in the hills of West Virginia, in upstate Michigan and in rural Nevada they will get it.

They may not know it yet, but the man who spoke at Liberty University is the man evangelicals have awaited. He was honest, he was plain, he was a gentleman. He did not pretend to agree with the theology of the Liberty University audience, but the crowd there knows their Bible and they know that a God who can anoint the Persian Cyrus can find his man any place.

And Romney, or at least his speech writer, was on point. He did not fall for the latest shiny distraction of the Obama campaign, but laid out the essential differences. Romney stands with Liberty for the future. There is no future in adopting ancient decadence sped up with technology. There is no victory in growing angry and merely reacting with the slogans of past campaigns.

Some media did not understand his message. They wanted the governor to fixate on one issue, but Romney is not a hater. He is an American happy to see people left alone, but unwilling to change the Constitution and our heritage lightly or because of temporal claims. A different things need not be a bad thing, but it can never be the same thing.

Many Americans have seen the future President Obama has painted and have decide: “No thank you.” Governor Romney suggested an alternate view at Liberty and the forty-six percent that voted for John McCain will be behind him with a large chunk of the middle that gave the president a chance.

Decent men will not lightly abandon a good man like President Obama, but a majority will vote him out of office if he fails. Romney is pressing the case that he is failing. Americans develop dispositions based on the economy, but they vote their consciences.

The economy has made them surly, but Romney refused to play to their fears. At Liberty, he appealed to the better angels within us.

Mitt Romney only needs evangelicals to come home, moderates to trust him and the base to give him a chance. Mitt Romney in Lynchburg showed the capacity to do all three. He did not ignore difference, but stressed common ground with the vast evangelical plurality. He is a moderate man by nature and expressed his views without rancor and he appealed to the grandness of the Grand Old Party.

He tied economic progress to moral decency. A rich, but wicked Babylon is no fit place for republicans. A poor, but virtuous nation cannot defend herself in a dangerous world.

I believe this man will win. Last weekend made Mitt Romney the next president of the United States . . . if he can repeat the Lynchburg mantra: a decent America works.

John Mark Reynolds is the incoming provost at Houston Baptist University and the founder of the Torrey Honors Institute.

John Mark Reynolds
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  • catatonicjones

    That Romney is the man the evangelicals have been waiting for is the reason I’m voting against him. I was waiting to make up my mind after the campaigning had been on a while, but I can’t forgive him for this.
    Doubtful I’ll vote for Obama, but certain I won’t vote for Romney.

  • persiflage

    There hasn’t been a decent republican president since Dwight David Eisenhower, a man now completely lost to history. And as long as GOP presidential candidates are required to pass the religious sniff test, the odor of mediocrity will be overwhelming.

    Mitt Scissorhands is just another in the long line of unsuitable candidates that see fit to pander to religious fundamentalists in a secular society.

  • persiflage

    ‘A rich, but wicked Babylon is no fit place for republicans.’

    How exactly does Rmoney’s full support of the draconian Ryan budget proposal meet the critieria of economic progress by way of moral decency? Should be easy for Mitt, since he lives off of millions annually by way of capital gains that are taxed at 15%. Are religious people just not very smart?

    They’re supporting ideas (and people) that are working diligently to undermine whatever security is left to working people.

    It’s going to take a mighty big vehicle to transport resident republicans from Babyon to the Elesian Fields of moral righteousness. I suppose the ever-smiling Mitt will be driving the bus.

  • cricket44

    “He was honest” Well, that would be new.

    “I believe this man will win.” And I will fervently pray that you are wrong.

    What a nightmare for this country if he does.

  • Secular1

    Good grief this man’s speech at that citadel of bigotry was nothing short of sycophancy and pandering. This school among its academic studies calls Romney’s own religion as nothing but a cult and even schools its students in how to confront cults of its ilk. He goes there with a single issue message of christian sectarianism. To the exclusion of tolerance of any kind except christian ethics and morality, even that was spelled out in the most narrowest of terms. This man is fundamentally without any core values, whatsoever. A man who claimed to be to the left of Ted Kennedy on virtually every social issue is now is to the right of Barry Goldwater. This without any compelling narrative or life experience for such a change of heart. He is a man who just a “wanter”, and has no vision good bad or even ugly. You know what happens then, the independents don’t be deluded into thinking that he will govern from the middle. See he wants not only to be elected president but also wants to be re-elected. There in in lies teh delusio, if one thinks he will rule from the middle. His wanting to be re-elected will keep him from ruling from teh middle. He i now a captive of the retrograde social radicals and delusional neo-cons in foreign policy.

  • hrobert02

    ‘not a hater’…’happy to see people left alone’

    Two characteristics one would think should never be linked with right-wing religion. You’ve got to be kidding!

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