Romney to Deliver "The Speech"

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Dec 02, 2007 6:12 PM
It's official:  Mitt Romney will give a major address on the topic of "Faith in America."  And like President John F. Kennedy, he will do so in the heart of the Bible Belt -- in Texas. 

While some conservative leaders, such as Townhall.com's Hugh Hewitt have argued against giving a Kennedy-esque speech, others (including myself) have predicted that he would have to eventually address the issue head-on.

Back on October 16, I predicted a "Mormon speech" would likely be coming soon from Mitt Romney.  Here's what I wrote:  

Columnist Bob Novak recently reported that a speech would likely happen after Iowa -- but before the New Hampshire primary.  According to my sources, Novak is probably right about the speech, but probably wrong about the timing ...
"It's likely to happen sooner rather than later," one senior Republican aide allied with Romney confides in me. 

The reason?  There will most likely be only a short period of time -- possibly only a few days -- between the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary.  That would leave little time to get a message out, and zero time to do crisis control if a message delivery were botched.
As recently as Friday morning (on MSNBC's Morning Joe), Romney was publicly stating that he had not made up his mind whether or not to give the speech.  It is clear to me, at least, that the ascendancy of social conservative Mike Huckabee in Iowa has made this speech imperative. 

The following email came from Romney's eCampaign director Stephen Smith:

As you may have heard, Governor Romney has decided to deliver an address titled Faith in America later this week in College Station, Texas. 

Provided below, for your consideration, is an on-the record statement about the speech, the governor’s decision to deliver it and the themes Governor Romney will discuss: 

Statement from Kevin Madden, Romney for President campaign spokesman: 

“Governor Romney has made a decision to deliver a speech titled ‘Faith in America.’ 

“The governor has been invited to The George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas to deliver this address on Thursday, December 6. 

“This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his Presidency if he were elected. 

“Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation.” 

“Governor Romney personally made the decision to deliver this speech sometime last week.  

“While identifying a venue for this address, the campaign consulted with President George H.W. Bush’s office last week about Governor Romney’s decision.  President Bush was gracious enough to extend an invitation to deliver the speech at the presidential library.  

“The invitation to speak at the presidential library is not an endorsement of Governor Romney’s campaign. 

-Kevin Madden, Romney for President campaign spokesman