Romney Scores An Important South Carolina Endorsement

It's Dr. Don Wilton, the pastor of the largest Baptist Church in Spartanburg and the immediate past president of the South Carolina Southern Baptist convention. Do not be surprised if his endorsement -- combined with the public endorsement of Bob Jones, III, give Romney the momentum he needs to cross that last threshold -- what Mark DeMoss, a Romney adviser, calls the "I'm not for a Mormon. I'm for THIS Mormon" effect.

That is -- Romney's relentlessness and often monotonous repetition of his conversion story, the hours he spends with each evangelical leader his campaign pursues, the work of key advisers like Peter Flaherty and Gary Marx, the fecklessness of Fred Thompson's late entrance, the public opposition to Rudy Giuliani, James Dobson's tacit acceptance of Romney -- it's working.

(Do not underestimate same-sex marriage in Massachusetts -- where Romney, in real time, fought for his conception of families and subsequently saw doors open to him.)

(Do not underestimate the implied comparisons between Ann Romney and brood with the Giuliani wives and personal life and Thompson's colorful reputation.)

When doctrinally sensitive Southern Baptist leaders start to support Romney (over former Southern Baptist ministers), Fred Thompson has, at most, a few weeks to prevent his cup from runnething over.

"I am proud to stand alongside Governor Romney as he pursues our nation's highest office. His values are my values – protecting the sanctity of human life, defending marriage and strengthening the family. We need someone in Washington who will stand up for traditional families and Governor Romney is that person," said Dr. Wilton. "While we may not agree on theology, Governor Romney and I agree that this election is about our country heading in the right direction. Governor Romney is the best candidate to stand for conservative values in Washington."

Excerpts from Romney's FRC speech are after the jump.

I think those who know me would say that I am pro-family on every level, from personal to political. I know this: the greatest blessing in my life is Ann and our five sons and daughters-in-law and ten grandchildren. My driving motivation is to have our kids and grandkids grow up in an America that is safe, prosperous and strong.

To achieve that, it’s not just what happens in the White House that matters, it is also what happens in your house. America’s future will determined not just by heads of state but also by heads of households.

But there is another reason, a societal reason, for the fundamental role of family. Family is the building block of the nation; it is the economic unit of our society. This is not just rhetoric. It is reality.

For all these reasons, a society is wealthier, healthier and stronger when it has strong families. In America, then, the family is a vital economic unit, the foundation of our nation. And it is the strength of this nation’s families that ultimately determines America’s strength in the family of nations.

That is why I believe that the most important work for the future of America is the work that goes on within the four walls of the American home.

One of the biggest threats to the fabric of our society is out-of-wedlock childbirth. 1) Ann and I will use the bully pulpit to teach America’s children that before they have babies, they should get married. It’s time to make out-of-wedlock births out-of-fashion again!

Bill Cosby related that in some inner cities: “There are whole blocks with scarcely a married couple, whole blocks without responsible males to watch out for wayward boys, whole neighborhoods in which little boys and girls come of age without seeing up close a committed relationship and perhaps never having attended a wedding.” This simply breaks my heart. And then there are the broad national implications of this tragedy. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot thrive when so many children are being raised without fathers in the home.

And if I am elected President, I will convene a White House Summit to look at ways we can strengthen the family, particularly in the inner city.

I will work with the people in this room as I have for the past 4 years, to champion a federal marriage amendment to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman. They said it was in our state Constitution. John Adams, who wrote it, would be surprised. It was not in our Constitution, but it was in the heads of a one vote majority on the bench to birth new law without the benefit of the democracy.

I will appoint and fight for justices who follow the law and the constitution, who understand judicial restraint and who won’t legislate from the bench. But being a pro-life president also means promoting policies that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life. I will oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, oppose partial birth abortion, oppose abortion in military clinics, oppose funding abortion in international aid programs, and I will work to ban embryonic cloning. I will work to increase adoptions by making the adoption tax credit permanent and raising awareness about embryonic adoption, or snowflake babies.

Actually, I’m pleased that so many people of many faiths have come to endorse my candidacy and my message. My campaign is about changing Washington to strengthen America: I want to build a stronger military, a stronger economy, and stronger families. I call these the three legs of the Republican stool. These three unite the coalition of conservatives that Ronald Reagan championed—defense conservatives, economic conservatives, and social conservatives.

We won’t win the White House with only 2 out of 3 or 1 out of 3. Republicans win the White House by motivating all 3 parts of our coalition to carry us to victory. We’re not going to beat Hillary Clinton by acting like Hillary Clinton.