FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Romney Press Office
May 12, 2012
MITT ROMNEY DELIVERS COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
– Mitt Romney
today delivered the commencement address at Liberty University in
Lynchburg, Virginia. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:
For the graduates, this moment marks a clear ending and a clear
beginning. The task set before you four years ago is now
completed in full. To the class of 2012: Well done, and
Some of you may have taken a little longer than four years to complete
your studies. One graduate has said that he completed his degree
in only two terms: Clinton’s and Bush’s.
In some ways, it is fitting that I share this distinction with Truett
Cathy. The Romney campaign comes to a sudden stop when we spot a
Chick-fil-A. Your chicken sandwiches were our comfort food
through the primary season, and there were days that we needed a lot of
comforting. So, Truett, thank you and congratulations on your
well-deserved honor today.
There are some people here who are even more pleased than the
graduates. Those would be the parents. Their years of
prayers, devotion, and investment have added up to this joyful
achievement. And with credit to Congressman Dick Armey: The
American Dream is not owning your own home, it is getting your kids out
of the home you own.
Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about life in four-year
stretches. And let’s just say that not everybody has achieved as
much in these last four years as you have.
That’s a theme for another day. But two observations. First, even
though job opportunities are scarce in this economy, it is not for
nothing that you have spent this time preparing. Jerry Falwell, Senior,
long ago observed that “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his
talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to
discourage him.” America needs your skill and talent. If we
take the right course, we will see a resurgence in the American economy
that will surprise the world, and that will open new doors of
opportunity for those who are prepared as you are.
Of course, what the next four years might hold for me is yet to be
determined. But I will say that things are looking up, and I take
your kind hospitality today as a sign of good things to come.
I consider it a great life honor to address you today. Your
generosity of spirit humbles me. The welcoming spirit of Liberty
is a tribute to the gracious Christian example of your founder.
In his 73 years of life, Dr. Falwell left a big mark. For nearly
five decades he shared that walk with his good wife Macel. It’s
wonderful to see her today. The calling Jerry answered was not an
easy one. Today we remember him as a courageous and big-hearted
minister of the Gospel who never feared an argument, and never hated an
adversary. Jerry deserves the tribute he would have treasured
most, as a cheerful, confident champion for Christ.
I will always remember his cheerful good humor and selflessness.
Several years ago, in my home, my wife and I were posing for a picture
together with him. We wanted him to be in the center of the
photo, but he insisted that Ann be in the middle, with he and I on the
sides. He explained, by pointing to me and himself, “You see,
Christ died between two thieves.”
Maybe the most confident step Jerry ever took was to open the doors of
this school 41 years ago.
He believed that Liberty might become one of the most respected
Christian universities anywhere on earth. And so it is today.
He believed, even when the first graduating class consisted of 13
students, that year after year young Christians would be drawn to such
a university in ever-greater numbers. And here you are.
Today, thanks to what you have gained here, you leave Liberty with
conviction and confidence as your armor. You know what you
believe. You know who you are. And you know Whom you will
serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it
will be among the most prized qualities from your education here.
Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals
will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.
That said, your values will not always be the object of public
admiration. In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more
you will endure the censure of the world. Christianity is not the faith
of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and
creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, John Paul
the Second, and Billy Graham. Each showed, in their own way, the
relentless and powerful influence of the message of Jesus Christ.
May that be your guide.
You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from
equal. Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study
to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others
falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the
difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people
believe and value. Central to America’s rise to global leadership is
our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and
possibilities of every life.
The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of
work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a
purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of
The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study
that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention. For those who
graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they
have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is
2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.
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
The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of
debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious
faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck
with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets
the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority
comes from government.
But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man.
Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And
whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the
needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is
no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in
Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many
others around the world. But whether we walk through that door,
and what we do with our lives after we do, is up to us.
Someone once observed that the great drama of Christianity is not a
crowd shot, following the movements of collectives or even
nations. The drama is always personal, individual, unfolding in
one’s own life. We’re not alone in sensing this. Men and
women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely
strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life.
And, in the way of lessons learned, by hitting the mark or by falling
short, I can tell you this much for sure.
All that you have heard here at Liberty University – about trusting in
God and in His purpose for each of us--makes for more than a good
sermon. It makes for a good life. So many things compete
for our attention and devotion. That doesn’t stop as you get
older. We are all prone, at various turns, to treat the trivial
things as all-important, the all-important things as trivial, and
little by little lose sight of the one thing that endures
No person I have ever met, not even the most righteous or pure of
heart, has gone without those times when faith recedes in the busy-ness
of life. It’s normal, and sometimes even the smallest glimpses of
the Lord’s work in our lives can reawaken our hearts. They bring
us back to ourselves – and, better still, to something far greater than
What we have, what we wish we had – ambitions fulfilled, ambitions
disappointed … investments won, investments lost … elections won,
elections lost – these things may occupy our attention, but they do not
define us. And each of them is subject to the vagaries and
serendipities of life. Our relationship with our Maker, however,
depends on none of this. It is entirely in our control, for He is
always at the door, and knocks for us. Our worldly successes
cannot be guaranteed, but our ability to achieve spiritual success is
entirely up to us, thanks to the grace of God. The best advice I
know is to give those worldly things your best but never your all,
reserving the ultimate hope for the only one who can grant it.
Many a preacher has advised the same, but few as memorably as Martin
Luther King, Jr. “As a young man,” he said, “with most of my life
ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and
absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone
tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and
In this life, the commitments that come closest to forever are those of
My Dad, George Romney, was a CEO, a governor, and a member of the
President’s Cabinet. My wife Ann asked him once, “What was your
greatest accomplishment?” Without a moment’s pause, he said,
“Raising our four kids.”
Ann and I feel the same way about our family. I have never once
regretted missing a business opportunity so that I could be with my
children and grandchildren. Among the things in life that can be
put off, being there when it matters most isn’t one of them.
As C.S. Lewis is said to have remarked, “The home is the ultimate
career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that is to
support the ultimate career.”
Promotions often mark the high points in a career, and I hope I haven’t
seen my last. But sometimes the high points come in unexpected
ways. I was asked to help rescue the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake
I’m embarrassed now to recall that when this opportunity was first
presented to me, I dismissed it out of hand. I was busy, I was
doing well, and, by the way, my lack of athletic prowess did not make
the Olympics a logical step. In fact, after I had accepted the
position, my oldest son called me and said, “Dad, I’ve spoken to the
brothers. We saw the paper this morning. We want you to
know there’s not a circumstance we could have conceived of that would
put you on the front page of the sports section.”
The Olympics were not a logical choice, but it was one of the best and
most fulfilling choices of my life. Opportunities for you to
serve in meaningful ways may come at inconvenient times, but that will
make them all the more precious.
People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where
we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in
creed and theology. Surely the answer is that we can meet in
service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a
common worldview. The best case for this is always the example of
Christian men and women working and witnessing to carry God’s love into
every life – people like the late Chuck Colson.
Not long ago, Chuck recounted a story from his days just after leaving
prison. He was assured by people of influence that, even with a
prison record, a man with his connections and experience could still
live very comfortably. They would make some calls, get Chuck
situated, and set him up once again as an important man. His
choice at that crossroads would make him, instead, a great man.
The call to service is one of the fundamental elements of our national
character. It has motivated every great movement of conscience
that this hopeful, fair-minded country of ours has ever seen.
Sometimes, as Dr. Viktor Frankl observed in a book for the ages, it is
not a matter of what we are asking of life, but rather what life is
asking of us. How often the answer to our own troubles is to help
others with theirs.
In all of these things – faith, family, work, and service –the choices
we make as Americans are, in other places, not choices at all.
For so many on this earth, life is filled with orders, not options,
right down to where they live, the work they do, and how many children
the state will permit them to have. All the more reason to be
grateful, this and every day, that we live in America, where the
talents God gave us may be used in freedom.
At this great Christian institution, you have all learned a thing or
two about these gifts and the good purposes they can serve. They
are yours to have and yours to share. Sometimes, your Liberty
education will set you apart, and always it will help direct your
path. And as you now leave, and make for new places near and far,
I hope for each one of you that your path will be long and life will be
The ideals that brought you here … the wisdom you gained here … and the
friends you found here – may these blessings be with you always,
wherever you go.
Thank you all, and God bless you.
RELEASE from Family Research Council
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 12, 2012
CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Darin Miller
FRC's Tony Perkins: Mitt Romney Seizes Opportunity in Liberty University
May 12, 2012
- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a graduate of
Liberty University, made the following comments in response to Governor
Mitt Romney's commencement address earlier
today at the University:
"Today's address was a tremendous opportunity for Governor Mitt Romney to communicate to social conservatives
through one of the largest conservative evangelical venues in the
country and Mr. Romney seized it by
emphasizing the shared values he holds with evangelicals even while
acknowledging theological differences. In his well-delivered speech, he
accentuated the core values issues that are essential to a strong
nation and of great importance to evangelicals. None of these are more
fundamental than marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Romney picked up on the message that energized
Rick Santorum's campaign: America's financial greatness is directly
tied to moral and cultural wholeness. Mitt Romney's
gives me a sense of hope that he will build on this message at
a time when millions of voters are reeling from President Obama's
endorsement for redefining marriage.
the students who were very respectful even though some had
expressed reservations about Mitt Romney as a
commencement speaker. This was a good day for Liberty University and a
great day for the legacy of Liberty's founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell,"