Mitt Romney will focus on family and opportunity when he gives the commencement speech Saturday at the evangelical Liberty University.
“Although opportunities seem scarce in this economy, it is not for nothing that you have spent this time preparing,” Romney will say at the school in Lynchburg, Va. “America needs your talent and your energy, all the more now that our country’s in a tough spot. For you and so many young Americans, our current troubles can be discouraging.
"You are ready for jobs that were supposed to be ready for you. Millions wait on the day when there are jobs for everyone willing to work, and opportunities to match your hopes and your goals. But don’t lose heart, because that day is coming.”
The presumptive GOP nominee will need to mobilize evangelical voters to turn out for him in the fall — especially in a critical battleground state like Virginia — and many have speculated that Romney would use his speech at Liberty to discuss his Mormon faith, a topic he has mostly avoided this campaign cycle.
Romney still might delve into the topic of religion, but the excerpts of the speech provided by his campaign have a different focus.
Liberty University was founded by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell, and is among the best-known evangelical colleges in the country.
When then-GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry addressed the school
last September, he called for a stronger Christian influence on America,
and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) did the same, talking about how she
came to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Romney struggled mightily with evangelical voters in the primary, who largely flocked to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a Catholic.
While Romney is likely to take a majority of evangelical voters against President Obama in the fall, the election is sizing up to be a close one, and both sides will need to maximize the turnout of their core constituents to tip the scales.