Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Parker Slaybaugh
Lynchburg, VA - Religion was at the heart of Mitt Romney's address to Liberty University graduates Saturday. An estimated 34,000 people - a large evangelical audience - gave Romney a warm welcome.
Even though excerpts from the likely Republican presidential candidate's speech hinted he might avoid religion, Romney made the issue his focus. He talked about witnessing, service, and living a purpose driven life.
"There's no greater force for good in that nation than Christian conscience in action," said Romney.
Romney's words delighted and surprised many graduates.
"I didn't know that he was as religious as he is," said Heather Miller, graduate.
"I appreciate that he came and delivered that sort of a message rather than a political campaign move or something like that," said Austin McNair, graduate.
The political reality is the class of 2012 is marching in to a tough economy. But, one, Romney says, has brighter days ahead.
"I am convinced we are going to see a resurgence in the American economy that will surprise the world, and that will open new doors of opportunity for those that are prepared as you are," said Romney.
Liberty's commencement address opened doors for Romney too: A chance to clarify where he stands on gay marriage to thousands of evangelicals. And he did.
"Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman," said Romney.
"Yes, I appreciated that, I liked that. I know that is a Biblical standard and I agree with that 100 percent," said Margaret Daley, graduate.
"I thought it was unwise. That was probably the one point where I was like, wish you hadn't said that and brought it in to it," said McNair.
And in good political fun, Romney gave the Obama administration a small jab.
"Let's just say not everybody has achieved as much in these last four years as you have," said Romney, speaking to the graduates.
Liberty's commencement was not without a small protest though. During most of the ceremony, a plane flew overhead with a sign that read, GOP equals Higher School Debt. Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. did not ignore it, saying Liberty's one of the best at tackling student loan debt.