The EFM Feature

I’m just a lowly contributor to this blog, so I hesitate to disagree with my friend and brother the editor—but I’m going to. Like Hugh Hewitt and the guys at Article VI, I do not think Gov. Romney should give a “Mormon speech.”
I agree entirely with the first part of Charles’s previous post. A candidate’s religion is a perfectly reasonable thing to consider when evaluating him. It is, for the most part, perfectly reasonable for the media to discuss ways in which a candidate’s faith may impact his decisions in office. But just because a candidate’s faith is in play does not necessarily mean that he must devote a speech to the issue. In fact, I think in some ways that by giving an address on the issue that Gov. Romney may give the secular world exactly what it wants—a setting apart of “religious” views from those of more “practical” public concerns. If the Governor wants to talk about this faith, and about how that faith has impacted his life and shaped his values, then he should do that as part of his normal campaign—as he is currently doing. If Gov. Romney feels inclined to give a major policy address on his values then he should give a “socially conservative” speech. In doing so, the Governor could articulate both the ways his faith influences his public policy positions and the reasons why he thinks those positions are best for the entire country.
I disagree with the second point Charles makes. Yes, there are many “well-meaning evangelicals out there who are concerned but persuadable” when it comes to Gov. Romney’s candidacy. But I think Gov. Romney can and should reach these people in the exact way he is doing now. That is, by traveling the country, giving speeches—and running ads—that articulate a values-based agenda, and introducing voters to his family. The Governor’s strong showing in Iowa seems to lend credence to this approach.
Finally, I think the Article VI guys are right that the speech would only grant visibility to an issue which, at least from my perspective, seems to be tailing off a bit. While many articles I read about the Governor mention his Mormon faith, it seems to me—and I readily grant that this is an anecdotal observation—that the focus of the conversation is beginning to shift. It seems reporters are becoming more interested in writing about Gov. Romney’s rise from an unknown to a top-tier candidate, his finely-tuned campaign, his executive leadership experience, and his position on the war, the economy, etc.
Gov. Romney’s faith is a part of who he is. He should continue to talk about it. But he shouldn’t set it apart from the rest of his candidacy and thereby allow a voracious media to poke at it with its giant stick. In the end, I think it’s far more important for Gov. Romney to spend time explaining why a trend like this one portends bad things for the future of the family than it is for him to explain the nuances of his religious views. So tell us how your faith impacts your life, Governor. But tell us too how our whole country will benefit from your values-based leadership. And do it in concert with the rest of your campaign.

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