Romney displays family values over Mother's Day weekend

On Mother's Day, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign released a new Web video featuring the presumptive GOP nominee's sons recounting their youth in a tribute to their mother Ann. The video features home footage and photos of the 5 Romney sons with their mother as each recounts favorite memories. Ben Romney says at the beginning of the video, for instance, “Looking back on the things that impressed me most about my mom, was how, I knew I was just one of five boys in the house, but I felt like when I was with her, that I was the most important thing in the world to her.”

Another son, Tagg, says “She is an authentic person. You know who she is when you meet her. She’s not—she doesn’t put on airs. She doesn’t try to be something that she’s not. She doesn’t try to measure what she’s going to say to gauge how you’re going to react to it. She just says what she thinks.” Finally, a message at the end of the video says “To all the moms, Happy Mother’s Day.”

Mitt Romney declared in a Mother's Day statement on May 13, “On Mother’s Day, I’ve been giving Ann lilacs every year since our first son was born.” Americans all over the country were marking the day as families recall the values in which they were nurtured. “As a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a son, I have had many wonderful women influence my life. When all is said and done, there’s nothing more important than our families. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful one,” Romney said.

In April, Democratic political strategist Hilary Rosen claimed that Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life," earning her the scorn of Republicans and conservatives, as well as some distancing from fellow Democrats. Republicans have not forgotten: just last week, super-PAC, Restore Our Future - which favors Romney's candidacy - released a video titled “Happy Mother’s Day from Barack Obama’s Team,” reminding voters of Rosen’s comments. Rosen has apologized, however.

Opinion polls appear to show greater support for Obama among women than for Romney, however. A USA Today-Gallup poll of likely voters, released on May 7, in 12 key states released showed President Obama leading the former Massachusetts governor 52 percent to 40 among female voters, with Romney ahead among men, 50 to 42 percent.

Obama made a splash last week by endorsing same-sex marriage in an apparent change of heart. Some polls show a slight majority of Americans in support of such unions. Whether Obama's stance will alter the nearly 95% support he enjoyed among black Americans, a key constituency, remains to be seen, despite the misgivings many black Christians' view that homosexual unions are non-Biblical.

As for Romney's support among other Christians, his weekend speech as Liberty University - an evangelical Christian stronghold - may have hit the right note. Acknowledging that his Mormon faith is at odds with most forms of Christianity, Romney focused on commonly-held beliefs. "People of different faiths, like yours and mine, somtimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose when there are so many differences in creed and theology,” Romney said.  “Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview,” he said.  

Addressing the issue of same-sex marriage, “Culture matters,” Romney said. “As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”  Romney received then a standing ovation from the overwhelming conservative crowd. Romney also invoked failed Republican candidate Rick Santorum, a Catholic,  and Chuck Colson, the recently deceased leading light among evangelical Christians who was also active in ecumenical efforts, and reflected on their insistence that family does matter. Said Romney, “The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Sen. Rick Santorum brought to my attention,” Romney said about the importance of family.

Same-sex marriage as a political issue is fraught with peril for both candidates. In a poll conducted for The Hill, 40 percent of likely voters believe that Obama is too supportive of gay rights, while 40 percent also believe Romney is not supportive enough. And some of the key states for these candidates to woo are socially conservative, and thus unfriendly to same-sex marriage. Swing states such as Virginia and North Carolina often show conservative moods. The Tar Heel State just voted last week to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman, thus confirming Republicans' traditional definition of the institution.

Obama's embrace of same-sex marriage, which earned him a cover of Newsweek magazine as the nation's first 'gay' president, could suppress voter enthusiasm in some circles, especially Christians regardless of skin color. According to the The Hill Poll, for instance, about one in three blacks (36 percent) said the chief executive was “too supportive” of gay rights, while more than half (57 percent) said his support was “about right.”



Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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