|2008 Flash back Obama actively courted the Evangelical vote - see campaign signs from get religion.com|
Now Mitt Romney has been invited to give a commencement speech at the largest evangelical university – anywhere – Liberty University has a student body of 80,000 plus, and offers degree programs as varied as law, government, aeronautics, business and education – although, like the many Catholic colleges and universities where education is more about education and less about politics unless one is specifically enrolled in that course of study, Liberty does invite political figures to speak –this year Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry both spoke at the college.
The New York Times has headlined:http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/romney-to-give-commencement-at-evangelical-university/">”Romney to Give Commencement at Evangelical University” – giving one the impression that there is perhaps only one in the nation, and therefore, a rarity (not true). Also, the gist of the piece by the Times, that Romney’s doing so as Virginia is a swing state (students at the University are not necessarily residents of the State of VA), the 46,000 who may attend could be from the School of Government, or possibly Republican’s who might want to get a glimpse of the next president. The article goes on to speak about a Facebook protest where the Times offers: “However, the decision has already sparked controversy among students and alumni of Liberty University, with nearly 300 people commenting on the institution’s Facebook announcement within two hours of its posting. Apparently, the Times got there early, as the http://www.facebook.com/LibertyUniversity/posts/340898819306825">Announcment Page has over 73,0000 likes and comments are generally supportive of the Romney visit.
Of course, the University has also give the honor to President George H. Bush and Ronald Reagan, therefore, to offer the opportunity to Mitt Romney comes as little to no surprise. It may be viewed as a political point, but to the reality – it is an honor and an opportunity for Romney to deliver a message of hope to those about to graduate, entering an uncertain economy - who better than Romney to deliver a message of hope regarding the economy?
Therefore, the Campus as large as it is, with a large student body – would have little impact on the swing state of Virginia.
However, in the 2008 election, the candidate that courted the Evangelical vote – was Barack Obama – he took every opportunity to get in front of the evangelical audience, including a trip to ”Saddleback Church”, where he was in a forum with John McCain. (ABC News) – Obama’s campaign also had an outreach program to entice the evangelical vote with a “Democrat faith conference”(ABC), and many evangelicals voted for Obama – some accounts suggest up to 40 percent of evangelicals voted for the President (Christian Post).
Therefore, as Evangelical’s, like any denomination or voting bloc contained therein is a target for Democrat Votes (see Catholics, etc.) , then Romney is basically on their turf, and to be marginalized or demonized – take your pick.
On the one hand, the left fears that the Evangelicals may accept Romney, and reject Obama in the fall, on the other, there will be the whole Romney by virtue of speaking at Liberty, founded by Jerry Falwell, he may end up tagged under “Religious Right Wing – Far to the Right” by the same press. It is a conundrum – and it is from those who uphold the first amendment when it comes to print or broadcast, that scream the loudest about separation of church and state – when it comes to a candidate who is not – Progressive.
Therefore, what Romney may hope to accomplish is a find speech, giving these graduates hope for the future, where none now exists.
Flashback to 2008 – Obama actively courted a variety of denominations with campaign signs that reflected the same see Get Religion”
Romney, one gets the impression, would be gratified and perhaps humbled to speak at such an institution, given the opportunity – while not necessarily seeing a political gain- one can bet Romney’s campaign signs, at these types of events, will not feature the symbols of Christianity used in the Obama campaign of 2008 to court Christians.