We’re picking up again after the dinner break with a bang.  Mitt Romney is up, and his masses are out to support him.

He brought in a busload of supporters to envigorate the crowd during his talk.  And it got him some applause–including a round thirty seconds in–but it may have been counterproductive.  At points, the applause lines were too frequent, which made Romney’s speech seem halting and made his transitions rough.

In other words, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Romney over-managed this event.  Applause is great, but not if it prevents a speech from building and resulting in spontaneous bursts of recognition.
Romney clearly wanted to sell himself as the social conservative par excellance.  Jay Sekulow from the American Center for Law and Justice introduced him, which is a coup for this audience.  His speech was replete with references social con heros, including Reagen (several times), C.S. Lewis, the Bible (naturally) and James Dobson.

The speech itself was, well, not overly impressive, unless you like lists.  While the other candidates could have been organized, Romney’s speech could have used a lot more depth.

Of interest in that list:

  • He’s going to use his bully pulpit to present a good image of a family to the country.  He’s going to be “father-in-chief” as well as “commander-in-chief” (that’s my synopsis).
  • Federal marriage amendment to champion marriage as a union between a man and woman.  This is the only way we can protect marriage from liberal, unelected judges.
  • On pro-life issues, he was brief.  “You can look at my record.”
  • Curiously, he proposed that every computer sold to families come with an “easy to engage internet filter” in order to help prevent the influence   I hadn’t heard that idea before.
  • He proposed a federal tax credit to defray cost of homeschooling expenses.  That played very well here.
  • On the Mormon issue, he said:  “You may have heard that I’m Mormon.  Some people think that they can’t support someone of my faith.  That’s only because they’ve listened to Harry Reid.”  He mentioned his big endorsements and passed on explaining it further, which I think is a good call.

So, what’s the up-shot of Mitt’s speech?

Romney’s speech was detailed, thorough, carefully organized, and focused on practical solutions to solve real problems.  And on those lines, it was far superior to anything we’ve heard yet.

Yet it was also too managerial, too focused on solving problems, to capture the imagination of the audience.  He certainly didn’t capture mine.  And that may be okay.  He should play to his strengths, not to his weaknesses.

But in this case, I think it was a mistake.  I wasn’t looking for a list of Mitt’s positions.  I was looking for a thorough, detailed explication of the few key areas that matter most and a serious, thoughtful attempt to dispel the worries that I have (namely, the legitimacy of his conversion and his position on Roe vs. Wade).  For this reason, I am a little disappointed in Mitt’s performance–it was strong for what it was, but I think he missed a golden opportunity to put evangelicals’ worries about his authenticity on pro-life issues to rest.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Has your fresh look at Romney affected your views on the “Romney Dilemma?”

    Also, do you have health insurance that covers carpal tunnel?


  2. Matt,

    Many thanks for blogging this event for those of us who couldn’t make it out…keep the posts rolling.

    You rock.


  3. Matthew Lee Anderson October 21, 2007 at 10:06 pm


    Not really. Mostly, I’m reconsidering his ability to win the general election and his ability to rally Republicans around himself. I think that both are highly unlikely.

    I need the health insurance–I think I wrote more words on Mere-O the last 72 hours than I did the first two years here. I’m tired!


  4. Matthew Lee Anderson October 21, 2007 at 10:33 pm


    Thanks for the encouragement. At the end of a long weekend, it is very mcuh appreciated!!!


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