LYNCHBURG, Va., May 12 (UPI) -- Mitt Romney said in a commencement speech at Liberty University in Virginia Saturday marriage is a "relationship between one man and one woman."
But days after President Barack Obama publicly expressed support for legalizing same-sex marriage, Romney referred to the subject only briefly and devoted much of his speech to extolling Judeo-Christian values, family and hard work.
He said "fundamental" principles "may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman."
The comment drew loud applause for the likely Republican presidential nominee at the world's largest Christian college, Fox News reported.
"Central to America's rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life," Romney said at the Lynchburg college. "The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the preeminence of the family."
The choice of Romney, a Mormon, as a commencement speaker stirred debate at the Liberty, CBS News reported.
"I think there's a lot of mixed emotions," Liberty student Jamie Goss said. "Some people are, like, 'Oh, I wish we would have had, like, a Christian speaker come.'"
Romney has struggled to win the support of some evangelical voters, partly because of his Mormon faith.
But National Journal White House Correspondent Major Garrett said on "CBS This Morning: Saturday" the former Massachusetts governor has no reason to be concerned.
Garrett noted a recent Pew Research Center poll showed Romney was running 53 percentage points ahead of Obama among evangelicals who intend to vote in November.
In his speech, Romney said: "People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology. Surely, the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview."