All week, the media has been speculating about Governor Romney’s speech about his religion. Will it hurt him or harm him? Is this the right time for such a speech? Why does he need to give such a speech in the first place?
As someone who has lived in Massachusetts my whole life, I am quite familiar with Mitt Romney. I remember when he came close to taking Ted Kennedy’s senate seat away from him, his talk during the closing ceremony of the Utah Winter Olympics, and his campaign and four-year term as Governor.
I’ve always found Gov. Romney to be a good speaker and an effective communicator. During his final debate for the governorship, he made a move that I found to be brilliant: he addressed the independent voters of Massachusetts and asked them for their support. It was the support of these independents (as well as many democrats) that helped him win.
So I was particularly interested in all the buzz surrounding this speech as, like many Americans, I’m following the build up to the 2008 election. I watched the speech and have to say that overall, I thought he did a great job but as someone who wasn’t bothered by Romney’s religion to begin with, it’s difficult for me to say if the speech met its objective of easing concerns that evangelical Christians have. But here is my take on his speech anyway:
I found his tone to be respectful of the listener and not at all forceful. I personally like a bit more force in these types of talks, but in this case, it would have worked against his objective. I felt the content was great — he gave some examples of religious bias in American history that many people can relate to. He also addressed a big concern of his target audience: political correctness trying to force God and other religious symbols out of our daily lives.
I didn’t see anything within the speech that I felt harmed him. I think the presence and introduction by Former President Bush helped him as Bush Sr. seems to be the least controversial of all the living Presidents. His talk definitely sounded Presidential in my opinion and was a sharp contrast to the talks that we typically hear from President Bush which are highly criticized.
We’ll have to keep an eye on the latest polls to see what the effects of the speech are. But as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I think it’s too bad that Romney’s religion, as well as Hillary Clinton’s gender and Barack Obama’s race, seem to be more important to some voters than the candidates’ positions on the issues.