Is Romney Going to Make Peace With Evangelicals in Liberty Commencement Speech?

One person in particular who has an interest in the issue from both sides is public relations guru Mark DeMoss. His Atlanta, Ga.-based firm handles the accounts of the Rev. Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, the late Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship and Liberty University.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to make what some hope to be a watershed speech to evangelicals in a commencement address to Liberty University graduates next month. But some evangelicals, both students and alumni, are still skeptical.

According to one evangelical leader, the opportunity for Romney to reach out to Christian conservatives during the May 12 commencement ceremony could have national ramifications and allow Romney to show that he truly cares about the issues important to them.

“They may not warmly applaud him and may continue to express differences and clearly there are differences theologically between Mormons and Christians, but here’s an opportunity for Mitt Romney to talk about what he has in common with evangelicals and that is on the value issues,” Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins told CNN’s Starting Point.

“As Christians we can disagree strongly but we show respect and I think they will show respect for Mitt Romney,” said Perkins.

Romney isn’t the first presidential candidate that has addressed the Lynchburg, Va., graduating class as he is following in the footsteps of then Governor and presidential candidate Ronald Reagan and former President George H.W. Bush.

But unlike Reagan and Bush who could claim at least some connection to evangelical Christianity, Romney is a Mormon and a former bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We are delighted that Governor Romney will join us to celebrate Commencement with Liberty’s 2012 graduates,” said Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., in a statement after Romney’s speech was announced in mid-April.

Yet some students and Liberty alumni are none too thrilled about Romney’s campus visit and for the obvious reason that he has not convinced them that he will fight for their issues.

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