Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Romney stresses family commitments to Liberty University grads

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Mitt Romney's Mormon faith has shaped his life, but he barely mentioned it as he spoke to graduates at an evangelical Christian university Saturday.

And he barely touched on hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage, instead offering a broad-based defense of values like family and hard work.

"Culture — what you believe, what you value, how you live — matters," Romney told graduates gathered in the football stadium on Liberty University's campus in the Virginia mountains. "The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family."

Instead of a red-meat conservative policy speech, Romney discussed his own family and offered a defense of Christianity, saying that "there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action." Still, he was inclusive: "Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life," Romney said.

He had one sustained applause line in a 20-minute speech delivered days after President Barack Obama historically embraced gay marriage. "Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman," Romney said to a cheering crowd of students who have to follow a strict code of conduct that considers sex out of wedlock and homosexuality to be sins.

The late Rev. Jerry Falwell founded Liberty University in 1971 to be for evangelical Christians "what Notre Dame is to young Catholics and Brigham Young is to young Mormons," as his son, university Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., said on commencement day. It's become a destination for Republican politicians looking to speak to the religious right, and Romney's campaign team — planning the speech long before gay marriage became a central issue — viewed it as an opportunity to address the kind of socially conservative audience that had been wary of him during the prolonged GOP primary fight.

For Romney, the challenge is twofold. His past policy positions, including support for abortion rights, don't sit well. But his personal faith is also an issue because many evangelicals don't consider Mormons to be fellow Christians. Evangelicals are a critical segment of the GOP base; many of those voters backed his GOP rivals in the prolonged primary.

When he locks in the Republican presidential nomination, Romney will make history as the first Mormon nominee from a major party.

Comments
Florida education news: Water pipes, gender rights, textbook choices and more

Florida education news: Water pipes, gender rights, textbook choices and more

IN THE WATER: A Pinellas County middle school continues to hand out water bottles to students as it clears its pipes of copper and iron. Officials say the levels are now safe, but want to keep up the effort as a precaution.GUNS ON CAMPUS: Two La...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Liberal super PAC takes aim at Adam Putnam

Liberal super PAC takes aim at Adam Putnam

The group that's known for tracking politicians, including Gov. Rick Scott, and promoting their embarrassing moments on video has a new quarry: Adam Putnam.American Bridge 21st Century, which formed in 2010 as a Super PAC accepting unlimited don...
Updated: 3 hours ago

AP Top News at 8:19 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 8:19 a.m. EST
Updated: 10 minutes ago
The Latest: Passageway is open the day after NYC bombing

The Latest: Passageway is open the day after NYC bombing

A passageway connecting New York City's Port Authority bus terminal and the Times Square subway station is back in use the day after a bomb went off there
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Turbulent Senate race now in hands of Alabama voters

Turbulent Senate race now in hands of Alabama voters

A turbulent Senate election is down to voters in Alabama who will choose between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish leader Shteinman dies at 104

Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish leader Shteinman dies at 104

Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, spiritual leader of Israel's non-Hassidic ultra-Orthodox Jews of European descent, has died
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Zimbabwe ex-leader Mugabe on 1st trip abroad since resigning

Zimbabwe ex-leader Mugabe on 1st trip abroad since resigning

Zimbabwe's ex-leader Mugabe on 1st trip abroad since resigning; to Singapore with wife
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Bangladesh questions family of man accused of NYC attack

Bangladesh questions family of man accused of NYC attack

Bangladesh counterterrorism officers are questioning the wife and other relatives of a man accused of carrying out a bomb attack in New York City's subway system
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Poll: Over 90 percent of Palestinians oppose Trump move

Poll: Over 90 percent of Palestinians oppose Trump move

A new Palestinian opinion poll finds overwhelming opposition to President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital
Updated: 13 minutes ago

'Univision' anchor Jorge Ramos writing book on immigration

A Univision journalist who famously clashed with then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015 has a book coming out about Trump and immigration
Updated: 14 minutes ago