Mitt Romney, Evangelicals Seek Marriage of Convenience
But the deal’s not done yet, and the challenge for Romney is to make sure these voters don’t stay home on Nov. 6.
“He has to be consistent with his message,” said Bob Vander Plaats, the president of the FAMiLY Leader, a conservative Christian group in Iowa. And he has to pick a running mate who meets the conservatives’ test.
Romney is well aware of the task. Senior adviser Mark DeMoss, a Liberty University trustee, thinks the Liberty speech will deliver an important boost.
“It will be an opportunity to address a whole lot of concerns for all 50 states in one place,” said DeMoss, whose Atlanta public relations firm represents Christian organizations, leaders and causes. The event also should allow Romney to look like a hero: Tens of thousands are expected to attend, and since it’s graduation day, they’re likely to be in a festive mood.
Romney needs them. Polls show that he and Obama in a virtual tie among all voters, meaning it’s important for each side to turn out its supporters in big numbers.
“If 3 or 4 percent of your voters stay home, that could make a big difference in states like Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania,” said Gary Bauer, the president of American Values, a conservative group, and a 2000 GOP presidential candidate.
In 2008, 23 percent of voters identified themselves as white Protestant evangelicals. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, got 73 percent of their support, and Obama got 26 percent, according to exit polls. In April, a Pew Research Center survey found that 73 percent of them supported Romney and 20 percent Obama.