Faced with lingering questions about his Mormonism, and the most serious challenge yet in Iowa, Mitt Romney has decided to confront the issue of his faith head on. This Thursday, Mitt will go to Texas (the same state where JFK made his famous “I do not speak for my church” speech), and make a speech entitled “Faith in America” at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library – with an introduction by the Former President himself.
Mormons are not supposed to gamble, but Mitt Romney is about to take a risk bigger than any that could be taken at a poker table or a slot machine. What Romney does over the next week, not only on Thursday, but also the day after, and on the Sunday shows next weekend, could make or break his candidacy, establish him as the clear leader or an also-ran, and determine how and when the GOP race unfolds.
What Romney will say, what Romney should say, and how he will do are all up for debate. I have been monitoring the developments for a couple of hours, and I can tell you that for every person who advises him to say “x”, I can show you a person who says the opposite, and for every person who says that this is a no-win, there is a person who says he will easily hit it out of the park. I can’t say either way how he will do, and I won’t even try to predict what he will say.
I won’t repeat the first thoughts to go through my head, as they would violate my policy of keeping this blog friendly to all ages. I have been against a speech on Mormonism from the start, out of a fear that it would legitimize a person’s faith as a political issue – something Romney does not want. However, I recognize (and the title and preview of the speech give me hope) that this speech, if done carefully and correctly, can be very effective in helping to regain some lost Evangelical support and in combating the remaining anti-Mormon bigotry. If Romney wishes to make this speech effective and successful, he is going to have to walk a fine line between addressing an issue, while not making it a central issue; discussing his faith and values, while not appearing to push or preach about them; and convincing those who are worried about a Mormon in the White House to support or accept him, while not offending those who don’t particularly care about social and religious matters.
Unfortunately, I am supposed to have school tomorrow (there is a small chance I won’t), and the late time is not allowing me to say everything I want to. I’m going to break up my pre-speech coverage into a few parts. Tomorrow, I’ll address Do’s and Don’ts of the speech, and Wednesday (though it may be pre-written), I’ll try to look at Who Romney is Targeting. In addition, I’ll be opening a “Write your own speech contest” and trying to set up post speech discussion either Thursday or Friday. In addition, anyone wishing to write their own analysis on the issue can write an editorial-style post, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org (no promises, but I will try to post as many as possible, and I’ll keep it open to those wishing to analyze the speech after it has been given) Those wishing to post links to their own sites are also welcome to post links. As always, comments are welcome.