Mitt Romney’s Mormon Speech

December 3, 2007 | 44 comments
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Mitt Romney has decided to formally address his Mormonism in a speech this Thursday. His campaign is stressing that he won’t be detailing Mormon doctrine, but speaking more broadly to the role of faith in America and in Mitt Romney. This speech will cause every major news organization on the planet to discuss Mormonism this week, with coverage that may exceed even that of the Salt Lake City Olympics, where Mormonism appeared only as a local interest sub-story. This week Mormonism will be at the center.

Over the next week we will offer threads about the speech, commentary and global discussion. Let us know what your local papers are saying.

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44 Responses to Mitt Romney’s Mormon Speech

  1. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2007 at 1:46 pm
  2. Dan on December 3, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    I can’t stand this kind of deception. He is saying that it is not a speech about his faith, but yet he perfectly well knows that the media will portray it as such. Already everybody is talking about how this is akin to JKF’s “I’m a Catholic” speech.

  3. Clark on December 3, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Great way to generate PR…

    I was pretty excited about Romney initially since he seemed like a competent business man. (And the Olympics) But he really turned me off with his pandering to Evangelicals and worse flip flopping. It made him seem an opportunist of the worst kind.

  4. Nate Oman on December 3, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Dan: I am not sure that I see how it is deceptive. It seems to me that Romeny’s campaign is saying something like, “We’re going to be addressing “The Mormon” issue, but only in broad terms. This isn’t going to be an exegesis of Mormon doctrine.” One might think that such a move is wise or unwise, laudable or blameworthy, but it hardly strikes me as deceptive.nboman

  5. Joseph D. Walch on December 3, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Adam, that “Evangelicals for Mitt” is a great link.

    I think Mitt is smart enough to NOT say anything that would irritate evangelicals. The questions is, will it be enough to assuage the fears and limited bigotry or sectarian self-interest of Evangelicals.

    I also feel, unfortunately, that if a sizeable proportion of the Republican Party sends me the message that I’m not welcome (as a Latter-day Saint) in THEIR party, then I will have more of an inclination to leave the Republican party. It’s fine with me if they want to play secular games, but not with my right to representation. I think 1912 was the last time we saw anything like this happen in our recent American political experience.

  6. John Mansfield on December 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Fifteen seconds of a nation’s attention devoted to a Latter-day Saint talking about his religion is a pretty good thing.

  7. Dan on December 3, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Nate,

    I see it as deceptive because his speech will NOT be anything like JFK’s “Catholic” speech, but yet Mitt Romney knows perfectly well that that is how it is being portrayed in the media, and he’s not doing a thing about it, because he wants it to be portrayed as such.

  8. Joseph D. Walch on December 3, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Dan, exactly how is this speech as perceived by you, unlike JFK’s speech?

  9. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Suppose we decide whether the speech was ‘deceptive’ after its given, hmm?

    And lets not feed the trolls.

  10. Dan on December 3, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Joseph,

    JFK’s gave his speech to Protestants who were afraid that JFK would be taking orders from the Vatican. His speech was intended to dispel those rumors. Protestants today are not afraid that Romney will be taking orders from Salt Lake. They are afraid of his religion. It is as if back in 1960, Protestants were afraid of Catholicism. Protestants do not see Mormonism as in line with their Christian views. They would rather have a Catholic (who they do see as Christian) than a Mormon (who they do not).

    Because the concern is not over who rules the candidate, the two speeches are completely different. JFK’s speech was about the separation of church and state. Mitt Romney will never win over conservative Christians by professing a belief in the separation of church and state, not when conservative Christians would love to mandate governance through a Christian philosophy.

    Romney will not speak about the Mormon doctrine that so offends conservative Christians whose votes he desires, because the more he talks about his theology, the more they will not like him. He knows this. That’s why he has hedged his answers, making him sound like a robot, especially next to the very relaxed former Baptist minister, Mr. Huckabee, who naturally fits the role conservative Christians want in their political leader. I don’t know if you had a chance to view this 20 minute video of an unscripted Romney defending his faith. Note the difference when Romney is video-taped without knowing, and the Romney at debates who keeps hedging his answers to ensure they are politically correct.

  11. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2007 at 4:09 pm
  12. Wilfried on December 3, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    (4) “But he really turned me off with his … flip flopping”

    Should we not applaud flip flopping in some circumstances? Is it, at some level, not another word for repentance or needed change? Part of our Gospel culture. On major issues all Mormons were asked to flip flop in 1890 and in 1978. Wise we did. And I think that, seen from the international perspective of the Church, many hope to see some more flip flopping in Mitt Romney.

  13. Dan on December 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Mr. Greenwood,

    And lets not feed the trolls.

    Who is trolling here?

  14. Brad on December 3, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Dan\’s right that this is not the JFK speech. That one still needs to happen, but only during the general election if he gets the nomination. The people worried about orders from GBH are not the same people as the ones who think Mormonism an anti-Christian, heretical abomination. Personally, I hope he tells the latter to shove it, since there\’s not much he can do at this point to change their minds, and his efforts to do as much to date have proven embarassing at best.

  15. Matt Evans on December 3, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Dan, the purpose of both speeches is to address concerns about the candidate’s religion some voters have concerns about. No one’s pretending the the speeches are exactly the same, and no one’s pretending the concerns about Mormonism are identical to those about Catholicism. (And in fact, I’m sure Romney’s camp is afraid the comparisons to JFK’s speech have raised expectations too high and can only hurt Romney. They’d rather address the Mormon issue without the inevitable commentary contrasting Romney with JFK.)

  16. Troll on December 3, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Give me food! Now! Dirty mormons.

  17. Clark on December 3, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Should we not applaud flip flopping in some circumstances?

    Yes. But it appears to me pretty clear that Romney is just being opportunistic. He he felt strongly about these things and there was evidence he did prior, I could see it. But when everything he flips on just coincidentally is the politically expedient thing to do, when there is no apparent event other than running for President providing a reason for the intellectual change, and when some things are just so cringe inducing (like his supposedly being a hunter) then it adds up. It’s not any one thing.

    I got burned with George Bush. I was worried that he didn’t have the ability to be President but voted for him anyway since I disliked Gore and thought the Clintons had really screwed up. The primaries are really important. (Sadly also largely irrelevant for me given where I live in Utah) I really wish the Republicans had better candidates. Truth be told I don’t like any of them.

  18. Matt Evans on December 3, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Brad, from the reports on Romney’s speech, it’s clear Romney intends to include the “my church doesn’t speak for me, and I don’t speak for my church” idea now, and not wait until next year.

  19. Bill on December 3, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    The timing is all wrong. It’s never wise to appear to be panicking. Those voters moving toward Huckabee either 1) are bigoted and nothing Romney says will convince them, or 2) are not bigoted and will be insulted by the implication that not voting for Romney means being religiously intolerant.

  20. Riker on December 3, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    It all depends on the manner of how he addresses the nation. This could either be a defining moment in his campaign. I was initially in the group who opposed giving a mormon speech. This is because anything that he said addressing specific tenets about Mormon doctrine could never be understood or communicated effectivley in such a venue. I believe that Mitt Romney will say was he has always said, that he believes in Jesus Christ, the bible, and that the family is the most important doctrine of his faith. He will not even mention garments, temples, or the location of zion. If he does I will be really surprised. I personally lean towards this will be a positive for his campaign and for the church, regardless if you don’t lean towards him politically. Huckabee has run an effective Anti-Mormon campaign and has corted the unease of evangelical voters. He can address it now or later, I tend to agree with doing it now.

  21. Brad Kramer on December 3, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    “no apparent event other than running for President providing a reason for the intellectual change”

    Nonsense, Clark. There was that meeting with the Harvard Scientists about stem cell research that converted him to pro-life. It’s like this guy I know that found ID so compelling that he accepted Jesus as his personal savior. ;)

  22. cyril on December 3, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I have been invited to attend the speech and will report when I return.

  23. Adam Greenwood on December 3, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    David Brody, an evangelical broadcaster, thinks that the important thing is for Romney to appear authentic, which apparently includes not attempting to claim to be Christian.
    http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/279686.aspx

    Here’s a suggestion that the real target of Romney’s speech won’t be die-hard evangelicals but independent and moderate voters who like to think of themselves as tolerant and inclusive.
    http://www.spectator.org/blogger.asp?BlogID=9575

  24. David R on December 3, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    #6 – \”we (LDS) are not welcome in their party\” is a message that the Republican Party needs to digest very carefully if they contemplate going down the path they seem to be going down.

  25. Bill on December 3, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    “independent and moderate voters who like to think of themselves as tolerant and inclusive”

    Most of these voters have given up hope on the Republican party in recent years. Romney hasn’t seemed to be trying very hard over the past year to appeal much to the few who are left.

  26. Ben H on December 3, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    I think it all depends what he says. If he makes some smart points about how faith should and shouldn’t play into this, develops these in a persuasive way through discussing our history and founding principles, and reaffirms that his faith anchors him in the values he is running on, then I think he could win a lot of confidence, dispel a lot of confusion, and in the process, without having to name any names, show why Mike Huckabee’s pitch about being the Christian candidate is wrong for America (thus eliminating that problem in Iowa). Maybe I’m too much of a philosopher, but I think what we need right now, Romney included, is not a clarification on Romney or Mormonism, but a persuasive presentation on the place of spiritual matters in public life.

    There are a lot of voters out there right now who are a bit confused about how their religious beliefs and feelings (or lack thereof!) should play into their voting, and into our public life as a nation. This has been clear from the discussions in the press for months. It has been a major part of the red-blue divide and many of the biggest political controversies of recent decades. If Romney can provide a helpful perspective on this point, in a way that sounds right to a range of voters, he will do more than win confidence in his candidacy; he will do America a major service.

  27. Seth R. on December 3, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    I think Romney has made a mistake in trying to invoke religion in his public image while, at the same time claiming he’s “just like you” (you being the typical conservative Christian).

    Thing is, whether Romney knows it or not, this kind of make-nice campaign plays right into Christian anti-Mormon stereotypes of Mormons as doctrinally amorphous, theologically dishonest opportunists who will do and say anything to get their missionaries in your front door.

    By minimizing the differences, Romney plays right into that stereotype. When you factor in his changes on key issues like abortion… Well, the guy completely undermines any credibility he might have had with a lot of evangelicals.

    Ironically, the best thing he probably could have done to win the confidence of the Christian Right, is to give the Christian fundamentalists the “theological finger.” They probably would have respected him more and whatever its ideological rhetoric, the Christian Right respects power. They want to back a winning horse. A bit of theological backbone would have served Romney well in that respect.

  28. Donna Lhouise on December 3, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    For people who have not dealt with the Mormonism thing, the speech will fall on deaf ears. For those of us who have been shoved aside, placed under the domination of their \”superioity attitudes\” and \”nice guy\” speeches, we already know what it would mean to have a Mormon as a President. His church would dominate the key positions in our government, and we would wonder what was going on. By the time the uninformed people woke up, it would be too late.

    I taught in a school district where the Mormons were the key people, and there was NO progressive attitude about education! The Mormon leaders were smart enough to have an equal number of Mormons and non-Mormons in the administration. However, all the administrators who had the \”final say\” on key decisions WERE all Mormon. This also happened in Salem, Oregon. We have to make people aware! That\’s what would happen to our United States of America if we elect a Mormon to the Presidency!

  29. Left Field on December 4, 2007 at 12:24 am

    “What are we going to do tomorrow night, Brain?”

    “The same thing we do every night, Pinky…”

  30. Adam Greenwood on December 4, 2007 at 11:38 am

    An argument that Romney is too corporate/professional class to make the kind of speech he needs to make:
    http://www.thedemocraticstrategist.org/strategist/2007/12/romneys_big_religion_speech.php

  31. WillF on December 4, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Does anyone know if this speech will be broadcast or rebroadcast in its entirety?

  32. Adam Greenwood on December 4, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Ross Douthat argues that the real reason evangelicals dislike Mormons is that we’re competing in the same social niche and for that reason an appeal to shared values will only backfire:
    http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/12/mormonism_and_its_enemies.php

    I think this is wrong, because I don’t think Romney’s speech is aimed at informed evangelicals who see Mormonism as a competitor. I think its aimed at folks, only some of whom are evangelicals, who are uneasy because they’ve heard that Mormonism is weird. For them, emphasizing common values helps.

  33. Ardis Parshall on December 4, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Does anyone know if this speech will be broadcast or rebroadcast in its entirety?

    In the Salt Lake area, Fox (13) has committed to carrying it live; other stations are deciding. Don’t know about elsewhere, sorry.

  34. Matt Evans on December 5, 2007 at 11:23 am

    I’ll be stunned if it’s not picked up by CNN or FoxNews.

  35. Susan on December 5, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Does anyone know what time the speech will be aired? I want to tape the speech, as I will probably be at work.

    Thanks for the help!

  36. Ardis Parshall on December 5, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Susan — 8:30 a.m., MST. I’m too parochial to translate Mountain time to anything else.

  37. Edje on December 5, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    The speech will also be streamed from the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation website, 9:30 AM CST: http://www.georgebushfoundation.org/

  38. Susan on December 5, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks so much for the help. I look forward to hearing his comments.

  39. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    One proposed version of the speech:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MGQ2NDJjOWJhNDVlMWFmODA3Mjg1OWY0YmEwMzNjNDk=

    Another, though with a big helping of snark in the introduction:
    http://theamericanscene.com/2007/12/05/this-is-the-place

  40. Adam Greenwood on December 5, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Jonah Goldberg joins the chorus who think the speech is a bad idea:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZTAyNDE4M2JlZWI5NWQ2MjA0NDBlMTg0YzFhMDAzNDU=

  41. Jon capasse on December 5, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    I cant see Mitt Talking about mormons other than in general terms. Anything more than that will open up a can of worms. If people start learning about LDS he will not be able to handle the numerous questions of origin and believes.

  42. Rod Reed on December 6, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    After listening to Mitt\’s speech twice today I have changed my opinion of the man. I feel he handled the issue of the church and his race for the White House just right. It wasn\’t even walking the fineline either. It seems he is very sincere and committed to being the kind of candidate and president that would make our great country better. I especially loved the quotes from John Adams, Samuel Adams and other founding fathers.
    Listen, what difference should it make that he is a Mormon anyway? Harry Reid is a Mormon, for goodness sakes!

    After today\’s speech, he has my vote. Good work and great speech, Mr. Romney.

    For a great overview of Mormonism http://www.historymormon.com

  43. informer156 on January 2, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    I sure that Staples, Home Depot and other businesses that Mitt Romney has brought fortunes to in the past are now being overrun by mormons. In fact, I hear that when you go to staples now they have Mormon Missionaries as greeters. Sound silly, yah so the idea that Mormon\’s will take over if one is elected as President. Let\’s start concerning ourselves with real campaign issues instead of ridiculous ideas such as Mormon\’s taking over America. Every Mormon I know is a good person and has a strong family. Mitt seems to fit that and that is important to me. He is a great business man and has had some great political success. Read this for more information how name calling in this election has hurt our communities. http://workfromhomechoices.com/blog/viral-blogging-what-is-the-price-of-profiting-from-the-politics-of-bigotry-and-hate/

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