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RUSH: I want to start with Mitt Romney today, Mitt Romney’s speech. Frankly, I thought what we saw today, folks, was a Republican candidate for president giving an inspiring speech. It was an inspiring speech about American values, including religion. Mitt Romney did this because he has been relentlessly attacked as something less than a true American. I watched this. I had seen some excerpts from the speech published before he made it. I thought he was inspiring, folks. I think he set exactly the right tone and I am stunned by some of the criticism I am seeing of this speech, particularly on some conservative websites. ‘He didn’t include atheists; he didn’t include agnostics; he didn’t say and reach out to Hindus.’ I don’t understand it. Of all things to take from this speech that Romney gave today, that he didn’t reach out to atheists and didn’t reach out to agnostics, is beyond me. I thought he showed today his ability to confront, to articulate, to persuade, and to lead.

He also demonstrated he is more than willing to take a huge risk. Everybody, from his advisors on down, said: ‘Don’t do this speech until after you’ve won a primary someplace, or until you’ve won the nomination. Don’t do this speech now. Too much can go wrong with it.’ Bob Novak had a column today, said, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen here; what can he say?’ Well, he said a lot of things. It’s amazing how the Drive-By Media is going gaga over empty suits like Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Neither of those candidates can hold a candle to any of ours: Romney, Rudy, Fred Thompson, Huckabee, none of them can. They’re empty suits compared to our side, and for our side to sit here and start talking, ‘He didn’t address atheists’? Let’s start with the audio sound bites, and let’s go to the precedent for this. This is September 12th, 1960, in Houston at the Rice Hotel, presidential candidate JFK addressing the Greater Houston Ministerial Association about being a Catholic. We put together here just a little montage.

JOHN F. KENNEDY: But because I am a Catholic and no Catholic has ever been elected president, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.

RUSH: Now let’s go to the Drive-Bys and their analysis prior to the speech being given, a montage today from CNN, ABC and PMSNBC.

HARRIS: Mitt Romney speaks out on religion, but don’t expect him to explain his Mormon beliefs.

BRZEZINSKI: Romney isn’t expected to focus on specific teachings.

BERMAN: If people are looking for him to explain the specific doctrines of his faith, the Mormon religion, they will be disappointed.

BASH: Do not expect him to talk about how he prays. He does not intend to sort of uncloak the mysteries of Mormonism.

RUSH: You can tell what this is all about. These people are hoping like hell that they can destroy him because of his Mormonism and scare people and set it up in advance that he’s not going to be honest, that he’s not going to be forthcoming and he’s got something to hide. It didn’t come off that way at all. We’ve got some sound bite excerpts, and let’s just get started. Here is the first.

ROMNEY: Let me assure you that no authorities of my church or of any other church, for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin. When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I’m fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.

RUSH: There was big applause. We cut the applause in the interests of time here, but there was a lot of it, and there were many applause lines, and a couple of them went on for an extended period of time. Here’s another excerpt.

ROMNEY: I believe in my Mormon faith, and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they’re right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. There is one fundamental question about which I’m often asked: ‘What do I believe about Jesus Christ?’ I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the savior of mankind.

RUSH: You can see he’s not reaching out to the atheists here, is he? Not reaching out to the agnostics, not reaching out to the Hindus. I’m still stunned that I read that kind of criticism on some conservative websites today. Here’s another excerpt.

ROMNEY: It’s important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. And where the affairs of our nation are concerned, it’s usually a sound rule to focus on the latter, on the great moral principles that urge us all on a common course. In recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It’s as if they’re intent on establishing a new religion in America, the religion of secularism. They are wrong. The Founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation under God, and in God we do, indeed, trust.

RUSH: I tell you, this stuff was, to me, it was inspiring listening to this. You’re listening here to a Republican candidate for president give an inspiring speech about American values in which he’s including religion because he’s been relentlessly attacked. Frankly, this is the kind of thing missing from the campaign. Where are we as a country? Where are we going? What kind of people are we? What binds us together? It isn’t health care. It’s not Social Security. It’s not all those little policy-wonk things. It’s who we are as a people and our acknowledgement, our Founders’ acknowledgement that we are all created by God, and it’s that creation from which we have our liberty and our freedom and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t come from any other human being. Those values are not imposed upon us. It can only be taken away by men, but they are granted to us by virtue of our creation. This is a perfect place for this kind of values speech to be made in a presidential campaign. One more sound bite.

ROMNEY: You can be certain of this. Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty has a friend and ally in me, and so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen. We do not insist on a single strain of religion. Rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith. Recall the early days of the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia during the fall of 1774, with Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. They were too divided in religious sentiments, what with Episcopalians and Quakers, and Baptists and Congregationalists and Presbyterians and Catholics, then Sam Adams rose and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot. And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together by the grace of God they founded this great nation.

RUSH: And the applause there went on and on and on. Romney also made it a point to say, in regards to prayer, that he will need the prayers of all Americans as president of the United States. There was nothing exclusionary; there was nothing threatening. I’m telling you, as far as I’m concerned, I think he was inspiring. I think he set exactly the right tone in this speech. But back to the people criticizing him and what he said. They really ought to look at themselves in the mirror, because what they really seem to be saying when they say he didn’t reach out to the agnostics and the atheists and the Hindus, what I think they really seem to be saying is, if you don’t share my religion, not my beliefs, but my religion, then you’re not qualified to be president. What they’re saying is, you can never say enough, you can never say the right thing because you’re not of my religion, and therefore you’re not qualified to be president. Atheism is a religion, whether they want to believe it or not. Agnosticism is too. If you want to say that he didn’t reach out to them or the Hindus then he’s not qualified because he didn’t acknowledge them, what kind of analysis is that?

This is poison, this kind of analysis, coming from conservatives on reputable websites. When I saw it, I was distressed by it. I expect it from liberals; I expect that kind of reaction. He didn’t address the atheists and the agnostics? He didn’t really explain his religion? He really didn’t explain why he should be nominated and so forth? All of this that people are saying reveals partisan thinking, the thinking of those who support another candidate, not seriously thinking about the nature of the process here and what Romney was trying to do with the speech. They’re looking at this strictly within the confines of a political speech, and I think it went beyond those bounds. The critics — I guess it’s quite natural — they put their own agenda into this speech. He didn’t talk about taxes, they’re saying, he didn’t talk about electability. This wasn’t a speech about taxes. This wasn’t a speech about electability. It wasn’t a speech about policy. It was a speech about American values, what binds us together as a people and as a nation and what will continue to bind us together in the future as a nation.

I have to tell you, I don’t endorse candidates in primaries, and this is not an endorsement. I’ve said this repeatedly. But Romney, throughout all of this — you try running around having your religion attacked and threatened and lied about every day, folks, and not get bitter, and Mitt Romney has not been bitter. He has not gotten angry. He easily could have. He’s kept a positive outlook and approach, despite being demeaned and doubted in ways that no other candidate has had to deal with.

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RUSH: Don’t doubt me. Now, just a couple final thoughts here on the Romney speech and the atmosphere surrounding it. As I mentioned, I don’t endorse candidates in primaries, but Romney certainly should have our attention in a good way. Whether he’s the nominee or not, he hasn’t been bitter; he hasn’t reacted in an angry way — and I’ll tell you, he has every reason to have done so. He’s been demeaned. He has been doubted in ways that no other candidate has had to deal with, and those who continue — even after this speech — to try to pick him apart with attacks on his character, which are really just disguised as supposedly thoughtful inquiries, should be ashamed of themselves. But I’ll tell you, I don’t think one candidate should be singled out this way, frankly, and this is another thing about this that is very, very irritating to me. If religion is important in this election — and I guess it is, because the Drive-Bys and the Democrats have made it important, and they make religion important in every election. I’ll tell you, you evangelicals? Don’t have short memories here. You are just as hated by the Drive-Bys as Mitt Romney is. You are just as despised by the Democratic Party as Mitt Romney is, and you know it. You have been the focus of full-frontal assaults on your religion for as many years as I can remember being in public life like this.

All the way back to the eighties, during the Reagan years, you know how you were portrayed. You’re stupid. You’re hayseed hicks. You have CNN with questions in a debate and some guy in a basement like the Unabomber holding up the Bible and asking, ‘Do you believe every word in this book?’ Like, ‘You idiot! You can’t possibly.’ You know how you’ve been insulted. You have gun racks in the back of your pickup truck. You get to church on Saturday night, and have a barbecue in the parking lot in order to be the first in the pew you want on Sunday. You go to NASCAR races. You’re missing a couple of front teeth. You chew tobacco, and you are stupid. That’s what they think of evangelicals and the so-called Christian right, and they’re dumping on Mitt Romney the same way. You have to understand why. They fear the morality of religion. They fear the moral guideposts. They fear that people of faith, whatever the faith is, believe in things larger than themselves. Liberals, some Democrats think the end-all is with them and with humanity, and that there is nothing larger (other than right now the environment), and anybody who knows there is something larger than themselves in this life, anybody who knows that there are questions human beings are capable of asking, but we will never be capable of answering while on this Earth, scares liberals to death, and they can’t control people like that, and they fear what they consider to be the judgmentalism of people like that. And they fear the standards, both moral and ethical, that people of faith — I don’t care what faith we’re talking about — conduct their lives with as best they can.

So it’s not just Romney that they are targeting. It’s people of faith who are public about it everywhere, and they’re doing their best to discredit anybody with faith of any kind. Do you note that the Democrats are never, ever, asked about this? If religion is important in this election, in that we want to know how someone’s faith may impact their governing, then I think all the candidates need to give a speech of this kind. All the candidates need to be asked questions like this. All the candidates need to spell out where they are coming from — Rudy, McCain, Thompson, Huckabee — not just the Republicans, either. Democrats as well. The Democrats mix the pulpit with politics all the time. They go into church and raise money for campaigns, in violation of laws, and nobody calls them on it because of where those churches are. They mix it all the time, and nobody ever calls them on it, and nobody ever tells them, ‘Aren’t you being a little hypocritical here? You’re out there constantly ripping evangelical Christians and the Christian right, and there you are in a church making speeches,’ and in Mrs. Clinton’s case, using a Southern black dialect to talk to the flock that’s inside the church? Where do the Democrats draw the lines on religion and governing? What do they believe? How do their religions influence their views? You know, Harry Reid is a Mormon. I wonder how Harry Reid feels about his brother Mormon being attacked like this, and having to defend himself, and how come Harry Reid doesn’t have to defend his Mormonism in context of how he governs?

‘Well, Rush, he’s not running for president.’

I don’t care. He’s in public life. He’s got a pretty powerful job. He’s the Senate majority leader. How come he doesn’t have to explain his belief in Mormonism? How come Orrin Hatch doesn’t have to? Understand what this is, folks: This is an effort to destroy the character and integrity of a good man, a decent man, on the basis of religion. It’s not the America I grew up in.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: By the way, one more thing about Romney, I don’t want you to forget this. This was articulate, it was clear, and it was somewhat courageous. Everybody was telling him not to do this. He showed leadership doing this today. He exemplified characteristics of somebody who is not afraid to lead. I hope you get a chance at some point to watch the whole speech or to at least read it, maybe watch it. It will be, I’m sure, replayed on a number of cable outlets.

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