Romney’s Millennial Problem at Liberty University


Talk about a stiff crowd.

This afternoon, Presidential hopeful (and this week’s same-sex marriage elephant in the room) Mitt Romney gave the commencement speech at Liberty University. The evangelical college is the brainchild and former stomping grounds of Reverend Jerry Falwell – founder of the anti-abortion, anti-gay and pro-stay-at-home-woman “Moral Majority” movement in the early 1980s. So one could only imagine how Romney’s day went after Obama’s little announcement a few days ago.

But, surprisingly, in the heart of the Bible Belt in Lynchburg, Virginia, the possible Mormon-in-chief stuck to his “faith and family values” guns when talking to the future-unemployed Class of 2012. His campaign argued that this was a commencement speech, not a political bit… at a school that was created out of the religious-political complex.

The only mention of the contentious issue came at the junction of democracy and its dialogues: “As fundamental as these principals are, they may become topics of the democratic debate,” he said, “So it is today with the institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman”

This is coming from a candidate who has always had a rough time with the evangelical vote – after Huckabee in 2008 and Santorum this year, it’s evident that the demographic wanted someone other than Romney to represent them. The reasons: his Mormon background (which many rank-and-file members of the Christian sect see as heretical) and his flip-flopping on abortion. That is why Romney tried to connect the religious ties with his audience:
“Central to America’s global rise to leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life,” he said, not mentioning that those “possibilities” are limited to heterosexuals.
But the avoidance of the same-sex marriage issue is an interesting one: one has to remember that those seats at Liberty University were occupied by the Millennial Generation; an age group that overwhelmingly supports the rights of the LGBT community. Romney was speaking to the members of a shifting mindset; regardless if they were graduating from Liberty University, their age identity speaks louder volumes than ever.
Hence why he had to tread lightly with the topic. A similar occurrence happened the day of Obama’s announcement, when Romney tried to focus on the economy instead of answering the obvious headlines that were breaking out everywhere. Same thing happened yesterday in out-of-touch North Carolina: Romney was completely silent on an issue the state had just been all but silent on.
Word of advice to Romney: it’s never good when you have to hush-hush an issue. Especially when you’re speaking to a group of kids going into this job market.