Following this past Christmas, reports surfaced of a meeting by prominent national evangelical leaders to be held in Texas sometime in January. You will recall this meeting involved over 150 people at a ranch outside Houston, January 15th. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to caucus and select one of the presidential candidates behind which all voters could unite — in effect, to choose the one “non-Romney” candidate that they thought could best defeat Romney. Fascinating!
As with any caucus, some were prepared to stand and persuade others to vote for the candidate they believed to be the best to select as the Republican nominee for President.
One of those leaders present that day, at the ranch outside Houston, was nationally known and highly respected Mark DeMoss, a prominent Evangelical. Mr. DeMoss stood for Governor Mitt Romney.
Though I have never met Mr. DeMoss and therefore do not know him, I can only imagine that his remarks to this body required a tremendous amount of courage, especially with the understanding that the vast majority of those present were intent on selecting a candidate they believed could best oppose, and therefore defeat Governor Romney! For this one act alone, I have tremendous admiration and respect for Mark DeMoss. I strongly believe that Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States — if so, I believe that history will hold Mark DeMoss out as a true American patriot in the stature of any this nation’s finest patriots of the past and present.
I am most grateful that Mr. DeMoss granted MittRomneyCentral.com the privilege of publishing his remarks to the group of 150+ Evangelicals exactly one week ago today. When I requested “an editorial” from Mr. DeMoss through our friend, John Schroeder of Article VI Blog, I never dreamed I would receive his remarks to the other evangelical leaders at the ranch that day.
Mark DeMoss’s speech that day is published below in its entirety — unedited.
[Almost exactly one year ago, Nate Gunderson published this outstanding article by Mark DeMoss that received over 2,300 views and 33 comments]
Mark DeMoss founded The DeMoss Group in 1991, and since then he has served some of the world’s most prominent and effective Christian ministries and enterprises. Mark has been involved in shaping some of the largest Christian events and campaigns over the past decade while simultaneously overseeing the growth of his firm. He has extensive media relations experience with both religious and mainstream media and provides particular expertise to clients in crisis/issues management and communications. Mark provides primary public relations counsel and strategic planning for The DeMoss Group. His first book, The Little Red Book of Wisdom, was published in 2007.
Favorite DeMoss Group Core Value > We demonstrate uncommon integrity.
REMARKS to HOUSTON EVENT January 13-14, 2012
By Mark DeMoss
In the summer of 2006 I began a search for the perfect presidential candidate. I’m here to tell you: I still haven’t found him—or her.
But I would suggest, neither have you—because there simply is no such thing. Just as there’s no such thing as the perfect employee, teacher, or pastor. None of us can find another person—including a spouse—with whom we agree on everything.
However, I’ll tell you what I did find that summer of ‘06. I found one of the most remarkable men and families I have ever met or known in Mitt Romney, his wife Ann, and their five sons. Governor Romney was my choice for president in ’08, and he remains my choice today. I didn’t arrive at this decision lightly.
So how did I, as a conservative and an evangelical, land on Mitt Romney? After reading all I could find and talking to people who knew him, I went to see him and told him I’d like to help him. I also told him he couldn’t pay me—ever.
I have a three-part litmus test for choosing a presidential candidate:
1. He/she must share my values (not necessarily my faith or theology)
2. He/she must be competent to lead and govern should they actually get elected.
3. He/she must be capable of getting elected.
So let me talk for a few minutes about values, competence and electability.
- First, while I am not interested in (nor worried about) giving platform to Mormon theology, I think this country would benefit from a good dose of Mormon values. Their overwhelming commitment to marriage, family, hard work, honesty, integrity, morality and character is something to be admired and modeled. Frankly, this church’s record in this area often outperforms ours in many ways. (I was reminded about this again just last weekend while watching one of our fallen evangelical leaders starring in ABC’s reality show Wife Swap.)
I’ve been in the Romney home numerous times. I’ve been with Mitt in offices, holding rooms, hotel rooms, restaurants, cars and planes all across this country and everything about him is real. I’ve gotten to know dozens of his friends, colleagues and advisors. I’ve even attended his church.
His marriage of 42 years is rock solid, and I’ll tell you this: I don’t worry about waking up one day to a headline about Mitt Romney like we have been saddened to hear about leaders among our own ranks like Gov. Mark Sanford, Sen. John Ensign, Sen. David Vitter, and countless pastors.
- Gov. Romney has fought hard for values we care deeply about. For example, he immediately condemned the November 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in his state, and then lobbied hard for a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage.
- Keep in mind; Mitt had an 85% Democratic legislature in Massachusetts. This is an important point, which I think is either unknown or lost on many conservative critics. An 85% opposition legislature means bills and measures the governor proposed could be changed at will. It also means measures he vetoed could be overridden at will.
(By the way, Mitt cast 800 vetoes as governor of Massachusetts—that’s one veto every day-and-a-half for four years.)
Finally, it means he had to know how to work constructively with people on
the other side, which is something we could use more of today.
So when you hear Mitt Romney did something as governor you don’t like, take a minute to find out if he did it, or an 85% Democratic majority did it over his best efforts and objections. A fair and honest assessment of his record requires this.
- Under his leadership, Massachusetts’ public schools began offering middle school classroom programs on abstinence from a faith-based organization.
- As governor, Mitt Romney vetoed bills providing access to the “morning¬after pill” and for expansive, embryo-destroying stem cell research.
- He staunchly defended the right of the Catholic Charities of Boston to refuse to allow homosexual couples to adopt children in its care, and filed a bill to protect such religious liberty.
- National Review political reporter John Miller wrote that, “a good case can be made that Romney has fought harder for social conservatives than any other governor in America, and it is difficult to imagine his doing so in a more daunting environment.”
- Listen to what one notable Republican had to say about Mitt Romney.
“In a few short days, Republicans from across this country will decide more than their party’s nominee. They will decide the very future of our party and the conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan built. Conservatives can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines in this election, and Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear. Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate that can go into the general election with a united Republican party.”
Who said this? Rick Santorum did when he endorsed and campaigned for Mitt just four years ago. Nothing in Mitt Romney’s record, speech, or life has changed since Sen. Santorum offered that endorsement, which, knowing the senator, I believe was offered seriously, genuinely, and as a matter of real conviction.
- I have concluded that Mitt Romney’s values more closely resemble my own than any president in my lifetime.
Chuck Colson pointed out in a BreakPoint radio commentary recently that as
“We are to choose the most competent people to be God’s magistrates to do justice, restrain evil, and preserve order. That’s what the Bible calls for. See Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18. While choosing men to help him judge the people, Moses was to select first of all, competent men. Those men were also to be godly—that is, men of good moral standing and character.”
One of the things I like about Mitt Romney is that he worked in government long enough to know how government works—but not so long that he only knows how to work for the government.
- He helped turn around Bain & Company from financial collapse—while taking a salary of one dollar. He then founded Bain Capital, which became one of the most successful venture capital and investment firms in the world.
- He rescued the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City from a bribery scandal and $379 million of debt—leaving behind a $100 million profit.
- As governor of Massachusetts he turned a $3 billion deficit into a budget surplus of $1 billion—without raising taxes. He also fulfilled a campaign promise to leave office with fewer state employees than when he came in.
For five years I’ve been saying I think Mitt Romney is the most qualified person to run for president in my lifetime. This week Jack Welch said the same thing on CNN—and he’s lived 30 years longer than me.
Certainly there is an ideology component involved in choosing candidates; but there is also a reality component. A successful presidential campaign requires obscene amounts of money, a large staff, organizational know-how—and some luck.
The importance of organization cannot be overstated. As we sit here, candidates not named Romney or Paul have failed to qualify for ballots in states awarding 342 delegates in the weeks ahead: Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Arizona and DC. That’s a problem.
The Republican Party has never nominated a candidate who didn’t win either Iowa or New Hampshire. Tuesday night, Mitt Romney became the first non-incumbent in history to win both!
But he didn’t just win—with the largest margin since Reagan beat Bush in 1980—
he won among those who are:
- “Very conservative” with 33% (Santorum 26)
- “Very conservative on social issues like abortion” with 29% (Santorum 25)
- “Strongly supportive of the Tea Party movement” with 36% (Paul 21)
- “Born again & evangelical” with 31% (Santorum 23)
- “Catholic” with 45% (Huntsman 17)
- A CBS Poll released this week shows him beating the president 47-45— the only candidate topping the president
- Unfortunately, presidential campaigns cost money—too much money, in my view. But Romney leads dramatically here as well, reporting this week $56 million raised for the primary through December 31—with $24 million raised in the fourth quarter. All-important cash-on-hand is $19 million, and all of these numbers are before winning Iowa and New Hampshire.
[As leaders, we each hope our respective endorsements will influence others. But we can also look to other endorsers for signs of a candidate’s strengths and values. For example, religious, social and fiscal conservatives, Tea Partiers, and those interested in the Courts can look to the endorsements of John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Christine O’Donnell, five past ambassadors to the Vatican, Jay Sekulow, MaryAnn Glendon and Robert Bork.]
Now, I realize some of you have concerns about Mitt Romney. For example:
- I am aware that he has changed his view or position on several issues in the past 10 years or so. But as Ann Coulter has written and said, his changes have made him more conservative. Remember, just 13 years before becoming president, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Therapeutic Abortion Bill in California. Our movement used to celebrate converts on the life issue. We should celebrate Mitt’s conversion—and then hold him accountable on it, and on any other issues we feel strongly about.
But I also have concerns:
- For example, as much as I assume all of us take fundamental exception to Mormon doctrine or theology, I would hope we could agree that anti-Mormon bigotry or mean-spirited behavior is not only inappropriate in the context of choosing a president, it is a poor testimony as followers of Christ in any context. I was embarrassed when such rhetoric was on full display, ironically at the Values Voter Summit last fall; and to my
knowledge, the only evangelical to publicly reject it was Chuck Colson.
No wonder half of all Mormons say evangelicals are “unfriendly” toward
them, according to a new Pew study.
I’ll conclude with this. For five years now I have watched a mean-spirited misinformation campaign carried out against Mitt Romney’s record and his character. Most of this originated with just a few evangelicals.
I will just use one example to illustrate. These people have charged, incessantly, that Mitt Romney “single-handedly ushered in gay marriage in Massachusetts.”
Well, don’t listen to me on this; consider what Maggie Gallagher, founder of National Organization for Marriage has written, back in 2004, and just last month. Maggie, who has not endorsed Romney, has been a tireless culture warrior and was instrumental with the Manhattan Declaration so many of you signed. She writes:
While the GOP glitterocracy attended the first gay wedding of one of their own, Gov. Romney was in Washington, D.C., making the single most eloquent and articulate defense of our traditional understanding of marriage I have heard from an American politician.
He asked the question we should all be asking: “Given the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. . . Should we abandon marriage as we know it and as it was known by the framers of our Constitution? Has America been wrong about marriage for 200 plus years? Were generations that spanned thousands of years from all the civilizations of the world wrong about marriage? Are the philosophies and teachings of all the world’s major religions simply wrong? Or is it more likely that four people among the seven that sat in a court in Massachusetts have erred? I believe that is the case.”
But, he went on; “Marriage is not solely for adults. Marriage is also for children. In fact, marriage is principally for the nurturing and development of children. The children of America have the right to have a father and a mother.”
Then, just last month, writing for Real Clear Politics, Maggie says this:
“Some have gotten the idea that Mitt Romney is somehow responsible for gay marriage in Massachusetts. But this particular attack is grotesquely unfair. I know; I was there.
In the summer of 2003, when I learned the Massachusetts courts were likely to make gay marriage a reality, I quit my job and started a think tank to work full time on the marriage issue.
Mitt Romney didn’t just oppose court-ordered same-sex marriage with words, he fought hard, including behind the scenes. He championed an effort to get a marriage amendment, which, under the state’s constitution, requires 25 percent of the legislators to vote twice to approve the amendment before it goes to the people for a vote.
The fact is, that against incredible shenanigans by many pro-gay marriage Democrats, while Romney was governor, the marriage amendment made progress. On January 2, 2007, a few days before Romney left office, more than 25 percent of legislators DID approve the marriage amendment.
After he left office, the Democrats succeeded through a massive arm-twisting campaign, to kill off the marriage amendment in the second vote. If Romney had had another term as governor, the people of Massachusetts would have won the right to overrule their court and reverse gay marriage, as the people of California did.”
We were each asked a question by Don Wildmon before we came to this meeting: “Would you be willing to compromise and change your choice to one that the body as a whole supports in order not to divide our strength?”
I answered, “no.” My commitment to Mitt is more than five years old, and I couldn’t presume the “body as a whole” would be fully represented in this room.
But I’ll close with another question, to which my answer is “yes.”
“Would you, for the sake of replacing President Obama, commit to supporting the nominee of the Republican Party?”
That task will require all of our help. Thank you for including me in this meeting.
[emphasis by Mark DeMoss]
Founded by Mark DeMoss in 1991, The DeMoss Group is the nation’s first and largest public relations agency exclusively serving Christian leaders, businesses, non-profit organizations and causes.
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“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” — C. S. Lewis
“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“And this President wakes up every morning, looks out across America and is proud to announce, ‘It could be worse.’ It could be worse? Is that what it means to be an American? It could be worse? Of course not. What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know it must be better.” — Mitt Romney