Romney gives religious, tweetable remarks at Southern Virginia University graduation

Published: Saturday, April 27 2013 1:55 p.m. MDT

BUENA VISTA, Va. — Two-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney used life experiences, scriptures and a Mormon pioneer story to encourage Southern Virginia University graduates to live abundantly and in deep waters.

Romney addressed a record-breaking crowd of more than 1,800 people – nearly double the size of last year’s commencement audience – assembled on the front lawn of Southern Virginia’s historic Main Hall. In addition to 114 graduates and their family members and friends, local education and government leaders attended, including Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

University leaders gave Romney an honorary doctorate, citing his family, church, academic and public service accomplishments, as well as his “remarkable, storied and celebrated career.”

“Each of our graduates today can look to Mitt and to Ann as epitomizing the fundamental principle taught on our campus through the motto of our university: learn that life is service,” Southern Virginia Provost Madison Sowell said.

Romney’s audience today was much smaller but possibly more enthusiastic than the one he addressed last year as a presidential candiate at the evangelical Liberty University, just 45 minutes away. Still, he took time today to thank those “hundreds from this campus” who had helped him campaign and said that he “owes them deeply.”

Romney briefly returned to a refrain that he occasionally used on the campaign trail.

“To you parents,” he said, “you are about to enjoy the new American dream: it is no longer owning your own home, it is getting your kids out of the home you own.”

Romney told the graduates that although not all of them would be rich, famous and powerful, “every one of you here today, as graduates, can live an abundant life.”

He recounted the biblical story of Jesus directing Peter and other fishermen to return to their boats after their unsuccessful fishing, and to cast their nets again.

Quoting Luke, he said, “Launch out in the deep, and let down your nets.”

“Those words are a metaphor for life: launch out into the deep,” Romney said.

Unlike commencement speakers of yesteryear, Romney’s experience on the campaign trail has trained him to speak in succinct sound bites – brief statements that can fit easily within Twitter’s 140-character limit.

“Don’t live in the shallow, live in the deep waters.”

“Grasp every ennobling experience that is available to you.”

“Embrace every dimension of living that challenges you, that educates you, that elevates you.”

“Live for purposes greater than yourself. Lose yourself in the service of others.”

“Reach beyond the shallows of selfishness, of complacency, of mindless conformity, and of indulgence.”

“Launch out into the deep, and your nets will be filled.”

On Marriage and Family

“Getting married is one way of launching into the deep.”

The combination of a man and woman in marriage is “extraordinarily challenging and enormously rewarding.”

“Marriage is a gift from God.”

“The Bible is a pearl of wisdom, a distillation of lessons of life. So when it says marry, listen.”

“Bringing children into the world is also launching into the deep.”

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