Paul Greenberg

He didn't just continue reading his text. He didn't talk down to his audience. He didn't raise his voice. He didn't scold. He didn't kiss-up. He just talked to the people.

After that brief detour into human communication, the candidate went back to his talking points for the most part. For the most part. Because before he was through, Mr. Romney also touched on what is, was, and always will be the most important of topics for someone who wants to lead a great nation: the education of future generations. And this is what he said:

"When it comes to education reform, candidates cannot have it both ways -- talking up education reform, while indulging the same groups that are blocking reform. You can be the voice of disadvantaged public-school students, or you can be the protector of special interests like the teachers unions, but you can't be both. I have made my choice: As president, I will be a champion of real education reform in America, and I won't let any special interest get in the way.

"I will give the parents of every low-income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school. For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to a student, so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school, or to a private school, where permitted. And I will make that a true choice by ensuring there are good options available to all."

Romney's words couldn't have been any clearer or more needed. He pierced the empty platitudes that so often fog up the subject of education. Let others speak of reform while really promoting the same old inertia. The man took his stand. He refused to treat education as just another ineffective but expensive welfare program. He told some home truths -- as many of his listeners must have recognized. Whatever their prejudices against Republicans.

But the speaker soon enough returned to his script, and his audience to its golf claps. Yawn-inducing normalcy reigned again. But for a moment Mitt Romney had come alive; he had talked sense. It may have been his finest moment in this still young presidential campaign. If he's going to become the next president of the United States, he'll need many more such moments.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.