29 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses
It goes without saying that one should not talk about politics and religion at the dinner table, especially during the holiday season.
But in a presidential campaign, common practices are often tossed out the window when it gets down to crunch time.
Mitt Romney tackles both topics in a major address on the broad issue of faith in America and of course, his own Mormon faith on Thursday at 10:30 am ET at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, TX.
The speech is entitled "Faith in America" and Romney's campaign is billing it as "an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the role religious tolerance has played in our nation's progress and how the Governor's faith would inform his presidency."
The speech comes just days after a Des Moines Register poll shows Mike Huckabee as the new frontrunner in Iowa, with a five point lead over Romney (29-24 percent). That same poll found that Huckabee leads Romney 38 percent to 22 percent among those surveyed who consider themselves born-again Christians. An ABC News poll from this summer found that 39 percent of Republican said they were "uncomfortable" with the idea of a Mormon president
Romney advisers tell ABC News' John Berman that the former governor felt "time has come to address the issue." Aides insist that the poll number did not influence their decision to give this speech now, and said that that decision was Romney's alone.
The speech is a gamble that Romney is willing to take with less than a month remaining before the Iowa caucuses.
Best case scenario for Romney: the speech sheds some light on Romney's Mormon faith and how that plays a role in his life and addresses voters' concerns enough to stop Huckabee's forward progress in the Hawkeye State. Worst case scenario, Romney shines a giant spotlight on exactly the wrong issue and causes voters think more about his religion and whether that affects their vote.
Per ABC News' Berman, the speech is mostly a Romney production – the former governor has no designated speech writer on staff and for the most part writes his speeches himself. ABC News' Matt Stuart reports that Romney wrote a draft of the speech at the Hilton in Boca Raton, Florida last Thursday following the CNN/YouTube/Republican Party of Florida debate.
(The campaign provided photos of the former governor working on his speech – very "State of the Union"-like: http://www.mittromney.com/img/Faith_In_America_1.jpg)
On the Campaign Trail. . .
--4:45 pm ET: Holds press conference, Sarasota, FL
--8:00 pm ET: Attends a local house party, Venice, FL
--10:30 am ET: Delivers speech at George Bush Presidential Library, College Station, TX
--8:15 pm ET: Meets with area voters, Las Vegas, NV
--9:30 pm ET: Meets with supporters, Las Vegas, NV
--10:00 am ET: Takes a Timberland Company tour and employee town hall meeting, Stratham, NH
--12:15 pm ET: Delivers remarks to Portsmouth Rotary, Newington, NH
--1:15 pm ET: Holds media availability, Newington, NH
--2:00 pm ET: Attends the Energy Security and Climate Change Forum, Portsmouth, NH
--7:00 pm ET: Attends Raymond town hall meeting, Raymond, NH
--6:00 pm ET: Hosts media availability, Greensboro, NC
As for the Democrats. . .
-- 11:30 am ET: Attends campaign event, Gilford, NH
--3:30 pm ET: Attends campaign event, Manchester, NH