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Romney’s commitment to Israel and criticisms of Obama’s record on this issue were recurring themes in Tampa. On Wednesday evening, the convention played a one-and-half minute video focused on Romney’s July trip to Israel. That night, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both cited Israel in discussing allies that they said needed to be able to count on American leadership.
But foreign policy came only at the end of a speech that was, like the convention itself, largely focused on introducing the former Massachusetts governor to voters and assailing Obama’s record on the economy and the president’s past comments on what the creators of businesses owe to society.
Social issues, meanwhile, got short shrift at the convention. Staunch social conservatives, such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Romney primary rival Rick Santorum, alluded to abortion and same-sex marriage only briefly in their addresses.
In his own speech, Romney – who supported abortion rights as governor of Massachusetts before later switching his position – included only a passing two-sentence reference telegraphing his opposition to abortion and to same-sex marriage, as well as his support of religious institutions resisting the Obama administration’s mandate guaranteeing birth control coverage for employees.
“As president, I will protect the sanctity of life,” he said. “I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America’s first liberty: the freedom of religion.”
The birth control coverage mandate and the religious freedom concerns of the policy’s opponents was alluded to by several speakers.
The convention was also book-ended by prayers delivered by public critics of the Obama administration’s policy. On Tuesday, the hurricane-delayed convention’s first full day, the invocation was offered by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, a rising Modern Orthodox star from a distinguished rabbinic family who testified before Congress against the policy. On Thursday evening, the convention concluded with a benediction from New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been in the forefront of the opposition to the policy.
While social issues were not the main focus at the convention podium, Democrats have made the issue of abortion rights a signal element in their pitch to Jewish voters. The Republican Party’s platform opposed abortion, without mentioning exceptions for rape and incest.