Romney to give commencement at Liberty University

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, waves as he arrives at the spring reception for the Republican Committee of Chester County Tuesday, April 10, 2012 in Mendenhall, Pa. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Mitt Romney.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
(CBS News) Mitt Romney will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University on May 12, the school announced today.

"This will be a historic event for Liberty University reminiscent of the visits of Governor, and then presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan to Liberty's campus in 1980 and of President George H.W. Bush who spoke at Liberty's 1990 Commencement ceremony," Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in a statement.

The speech will be the presumptive Republican nominee's first appearance at the school. Liberty University, founded by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, is the largest Christian university in the world, according to its website.

During the Republican primary campaign, several other candidates visited the southern Virginia campus and gave highly personal speeches about their religious faith.

"My faith journey is not the story of someone who turned to God because I wanted to. It is because I had nowhere else to turn," Texas Governor Rick Perry said in a speech last September.

And it was at Liberty University that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told assembled students, "don't settle for anything less than what this great and mighty God has planned for you."

For Romney, the commencement address will be a chance to speak directly to Evangelical Christian voters, a group with which he struggled to connect during his primary campaign. Virginia is also a key battleground state for the general election. A Quinnipiac poll taken last month gave President Obama an eight-point edge in the state. 

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    Caroline Horn is CBS News' senior producer for politics.

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