After reading and watching the entire speech, and reading and listening to media reaction all day, here are my thoughts:
- I thought his decision to open by using the phrase "The Greatest Generation" was a good one. Many Americans respect the generation of their parents (grandparents) and acknowledge that the sacrifices they made and the courage they displayed laid the foundation for the prosperity and freedom we have today. Stating that "how we respond to today's challenges will define our generation. And it will determine what kind of America we will leave our children, and theirs," was inspiring.
- I also felt his acknowledgment that religion is an important issue in politics was a good move. It's tempting to say that religion doesn't matter, but obviously religious belief is a major part of everyone, even those who have none. It affects our decisions and influences our interactions with others.
- His exactness in declaring that he wouldn't take marching orders from Salt Lake is what many people needed to hear.
- "Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they're right, so be it." Power.
- "For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths." Very President Hinckley-esque. Reminds me of President Hinckley's ability to be diplomatic and accepting of other beliefs. A good trait. Sure, atheists will be peeved at not being included, but you can't win 'em all. The title of the speech was "Faith in America," not "Agnosticism in America."
- I like how he drew attention to the values his family exhibits. I believe many Americans seek for that kind of togetherness and love in their own homes. Many more believe and hope for an eternal family. If this draws people to learn more about the Church, that will be enough to make the speech worthwhile, in my opinion.
- His final words were well-chosen. "Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. 'They were too divided in religious sentiments', what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics.
"Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.
"And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God, they founded this great nation."
It seems Romney's intent was to portray himself as a uniter. Several times he referred to other religions and noted positives he found in them. It's difficult to be anti-Mitt and anti-Mormon after he's expressed how he respects your faith. Will this create the desired results in key states?
Either way, the conservative radio talk show hosts loved it. Hannity, Ingraham, Rush, and even Savage all were nothing but complimentary about Romney and his message today. They all spent some time defending Romney against anti's who called in to bash him. If he's won these very influential people over, this is a major coup.
We'll see about long-lasting effects in the polls in Iowa. After the recent surge in Huckabee's poll numbers in that state, a few people have accused the Arkansas governor of attacking Mitt's faith. Here's a Wall Street Journal article titled "What Iowans Should Know About Mormons."
And one of my favorite political columnists, Charles Krauthammer, took Huckabee to task for making Romney's Mormonism an issue.
All are good reads.