Mitt Romney, needing badly to stir momentum among skeptical evangelical Christians vital to his presidential hopes, told a polite audience Saturday at Liberty University, an influential Christian school, that he shares and deeply respects their values.

“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,” said Romney, whose Mormon religion has been criticized in some evangelical circles.

“Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

Romney spoke at the school’s commencement, and got his most enthusiastic response when he reiterated his view that “marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.” President Barack Obama earlier in the week said he supported same-sex marriage, a sure-fire way to galvanize evangelicals and other social conservatives to work against his re-election.