December 3, 2007

Faith In America

Mitt Romney has decided to give "the speech" -- an address he prepared earlier this year to explain his Mormon faith and why it presents no threat to the Republic. He will deliver this oration at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library on Thursday, hoping to dispel the remaining vestiges of doubt over his qualifications for the presidency. Entitled "Faith in America", the speech will bring the Mormon question directly into the mainstream of political commentary.

At Heading Right, I question the timing of this speech. It should have come much earlier in the campaign, not at a time where it looks like a defensive maneuver against a surging Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Also, is it a mistake to try to undo bigotry with apologetics, especially when the defender of the faith is running for President?

Even if it is a mistake, though, "Faith in America" will be an intriguing and unique event in presidential politics. Mitt Romney is certainly uniquely qualified to give it, and his accessible oratory should make it a must-view.

UPDATE: Mark Tapscott thinks the speech is a good move, but not the venue:

Kennedy went to Houston in 1960 and spoke to a group of Baptists preachers because it conveyed a message of firm but open-minded courage. It also put the Baptists on the spot to “prove” their tolerance by supporting Kennedy.

Doing the JFK speech as here suggested would project Romney as a genuine leader of people of faith. Unfortunately, the people Romney most needs to persuade won’t be at the Bush Library.

Most of them wouldn't be at any one particular church, either. If he gave the speech at a Baptist college, would it alienate other denominations? Wouldn't a library be a more appropriate venue from which to expound on opposition to religious tests for office than a church? I'm not convinced by Mark's argument in that sense, but the rest of his column is a must-read.


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