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On campaign trail, Romney ratchets ups God rhetoric
Early in his campaign, Mitt Romney spoke at Liberty University, the largest evangelical Christian university in the world.
September 14th, 2012
03:14 PM ET

On campaign trail, Romney ratchets ups God rhetoric

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – At campaign events these days, Mitt Romney often says that if he is elected president, he will emphasize the role of God in American society and will not “take God out of the public square.”

That kind of rhetoric is a departure from earlier less God-focused versions of the Republican candidate’s stump speech and his early apprehension with discussing his Mormon faith.

According to Mark DeMoss, Romney’s adviser to the evangelical community, such lines are designed to create a contrast with a Democratic Party that had to fight to get God into its platform at its recent convention.

“I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square, and I will not take it out of the platform of my party,” Romney has been saying in his stump speech since the Democratic platform fight this month.

The former Massachusetts governor used the line at a campaign stop in Mansfield, Ohio, on Monday. In nearly the same breath, he said that “we are nation under God.”

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DeMoss says the new rhetoric is not a departure from anything but is “as much as a response to something that really shocked a lot of people.”

“I think the governor is probably doing two things,” said DeMoss, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign: “reinforcing his own commitment to God and, secondly, showing some contrast.”

Some religious leaders and scholars see Romney's new God talk in a somewhat different light.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and media commentator, said Romney’s line that “I will not take God out of my heart” is a coded way to question to veracity of the President Barack Obama’s Christian faith.

“Critiquing the president for taking God out of the public square when he regularly refers to God and implicitly critiquing him for taking God out of his heart, any way you look at it, is offensive,” Martin said.

In his critique of Romney’s religious rhetoric, Martin cited Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

DeMoss, a Christian PR executive, said questions about the president’s faith should not be read into the speech.

“I take that comment as a reinforced pledge and commitment that God is not going to be stripped from anything if he has anything to say about it, whether it is his heart or the public square or the party platform,” DeMoss said. “I think it would be unreasonable or unfair to suggest that that was a comment on the president.”

Last week, at an event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Romney pledged to keep God on U.S. currency.

“Our pledge says ‘under God,’”  Romney told thousands of energetic supporters at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach. “I will not take God out of the name of our platform. I will not take God off our coins. And I will not take God out of my heart.”

On Tuesday, the anniversary of terrorist attacks of September 11, Romney tweeted, "On this most somber day, America is united under God in its quest and freedom at home and across the world."

The increased God rhetoric adds to a campaign that has frequently discussed religious issues, even as Romney says the economy is the most important issue.

From debates over religious liberty – sparked by the Obama administration's "contraception mandate" for health care plans – to abortion rights, the Romney campaign has taken stands on a number of religious issues, attempting to draw a distinction with Obama.

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Jacques Berlinerblau, a Georgetown University professor with an expertise in religion and politics, says he sees the change as a response to a president who is doing better in recent polls.

“When (Republicans) get nervous about a loss, they go into base-whip-up stage,” Berlinerblau said. “They try to energize the base even more.”

He argues that such rhetoric will not appeal to “moderate religious voters” and that it is pushing Romney off his economic message.

“They are totally getting off-script,” Berlinerblau said. “We hear that this election is all about the economy, but now we are talking about religion and faith issues.”

DeMoss says it's possible to emphasize both religious and economic issues.

“I am comfortable with the balance that he has struck about talking about his faith and other people's faith, and I was comfortable with the balance at the Republican convention,” DeMoss said. “It is part of the equation, but it is certainly not the dominant part.”

– CNN’s Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • God • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (3,354 Responses)
  1. Neil

    Dear Romney, Take your religious faith in God and shove up your behind you F MORON! Who gives a damn. On the other hand you will have such blood and protests in the streets by your condemnation of everything under you white supremacist Sun that is not Leave it to Beaver, "I 'm home June..." You are so out of touch. Yes you are advocating view endemic of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alabama, Texas, MS, etc majorities outside of that you don't have a clue on the present, vibrant and existing pulse of social consciousness. Thank God you are making your views passionately known, it will expedite your pathetic LOW numbers at the polls!!

    September 14, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  2. rubywyld

    Who's God exactly gets to play in the public square? The Jewish God, The Catholic one, Jesus? Pan?? Mitt's alien God ?? Way to try and use tragic, violent events to insight yet more violence and extremism.... because as we've seen this week, religious extremists mentality mixes so well with politics.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • ogre12

      First accept Jesus as your savior and read then read the Holy Bible and you will know that answer. The bible is knowledge but Jesus is faith. None of us can come to God without simple faith in Jesus to start with. Then the Bible provides us the map to move forward in faith.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  3. josephmonroe

    Some people wear masks of decency and outward righteousness but live lives of deception. Hypocrites are those who outwardly wear masks that portray goodness but inwardly practice evil and deceit.

    The "god" that Romney and his fellow Mormons believe in is a stark difference from the concept of God that Christians believes in. Mormons believe that they can become a god themselves. They believe God has a wife also. Therefore, there is a Ms. God in the Mormon faith. They also are taught that their god lives near a planet called Kolub. Mormons are not Christians; Mormons just cloak themselves in the name of Christian faith to poach real Christians from other congregations into their cult.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  4. AuntieM

    Anyone besides me notice how much he looks like Richard Nixon when he's speaking? And I thought the Republicans couldn't come up with anyone more crooked than Bush/Cheney, my mistake.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • josephmonroe

      Why are you insulting Nixon?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  5. mws12345

    Your God?

    September 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  6. tom

    the first amendment doesn't guarantee freedom OF religion, it guarantees freedom FROM religion.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Wait until the next administration gets a hold of that amendment. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  7. Patrick Lewis

    Don't religious people say to judge someone based upon his deeds? Were Romney's dealings at Bain, something he had 100% control over, in line with what Jesus taught? Did Jesus say "Blessed are the monied for they will reap carried interest in abundance?"

    September 14, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I forget which Gospel that was in. The Gospel according to Goldman-Sachs?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      That shrewd business acu men and greed is about to buy Mitt the White House, so the Money is going to a noble purpose Romney / Ryan 2012.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      That shrewd business acu men and greed is about to buy Mitt the White House, so the Money is going to a noble purpose Romney / Ryan 2012 .

      September 14, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Ronnie,

      I must say you are much more entertaining of late. Did you attract a Poe?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      I am twice as certain Mitt can buy it. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Maryann

      I love my GOD,I don't need to beat people over the head to worship HIM.The republicans have gotten sooo far away from what I have always been taught that I just can't see where they are coming from.My GOD doesn't care about money like they do.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  8. George

    Which God is he talking about?

    September 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Perhaps the Christian God, which nowadays is simultaneously three persons one in essence and three persons who agree on everything and hang out together.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @TTTOO,

      that's George's point. Your definition of a "Christian" God is not the Mormon definition.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Girl Number 20

      Well, Mormons believe in a plurality of gods (just as they once believed in a plurality of wives). There's God the Father, who they call Elohim, and the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, who was born as Jesus, and then there's Michael, who was born as Adam when Elohim created him. Then, of course, you've got Elohim's wife, the Heavenly Mother. She is a goddess in her own right. It is supposed that Elohim is married to multiple wives (Mary, mother of Jesus is another of his wives). So that is four, possibly five gods right there.

      Then, Elohim was once a man before he became a god, and thus, he also had a god to rule over him. And that god had a god, and so on.

      Mormons also believe that if they are good enough, THEY will become gods once they die. Mormons are polytheists. Therefore, when Mitt talks about "god," it is probably best if someone asks the follow-up question to have him clarify exactly which god he means....

      September 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  9. Dasher

    It's fun to argue with someone that eventually loses patience and condemns me to hell. It gives me the option to say "great, meet you there!"

    September 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Hell is for the other side rich Republicans go to Miami. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  10. slim

    romney-ryan, really, damn you been had glops

    September 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • sonia

      They are all losers.He doesn't believe in God. Does he need to talk about God even though he don't know him.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  11. Cathy

    Sorry Mitt, even God couldn't save your sinking campaign.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      There are thousands of registered voters in every cemetery of this great land whose votes say Mitt will win. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Sarcastic Performance Art@! LOVE IT...

      September 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And they'll all be baptized Mormon after the election (if they're not already)!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Shawn

      Terribly offensive. Call being a man of faith and talking about it rhetoric. You must a heathenistic democrat full of hell hate and discontent, all of which stems from the fact that Obama is one of the worst presidents in history, deal with it.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Shawn

      You must a heathenistic democrat full of hell hate and discontent, all of which stems from the fact that Obama is one of the worst presidents in history

      Let my try to understand the sequence of causality in your logic:

      President Obama -> worst President in history -> heathenistic Democrats -> hell hate and discontent

      Did I get that right?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  12. Rich

    Romney's Morman God, is 6'2" and lives on the planet Oloff.... Check it out. That's what he believes.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Is that like Boris Orloff? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  13. Republican Class Warfare

    Romney is toast. He's probably going to withdraw from the debates. He pre-emptively accused the prez of lying the other day...meanwhile he and lyin ryan are dipping, sinking, falling fast in the polls. Obama is only 27 electoral votes away, not counting Ohio where he has a 7 point lead...

    September 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yep, when weeks before the debate you announce that your opponent will lie during the debate, you've got to be pretty desparate.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I think he's too stupid to drop out of the debates, he's too arrogant to even see he's losing. The man is a walking talking idiot.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Debates don't get you the White House, Money do. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  14. HFM

    what an ignorant clown....this moron has the sales skills of a desperate aluminum siding salesman...and has not had a coherent thought nor sentence come out of his phony face since announcing running (sliming) for president...if by some fluke this double digit IQ dufus wins the election, the US of A will spiral downwards as the middle class gets raked over the coals while numb nuts doles out tax bennies to his rich 'friends.'

    September 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Then become a rich friend. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  15. Cam Spurgeon

    UGH! Thats all I care to say. Go Vote and Help your friends and neighbors and family to vote.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  16. Bob, NY

    America has developed it's own Al Qaeda...complete with infidels to hate! These are the idiots that would still toss perfectly good virgins into a volcano. No wonder there are so many Atheists....the cults have created them

    September 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bob,

      no not an American Al Qaeda, an American Taliban.

      The hallmark of the Taliban is that they're willing to screw up their own country. Al Qaeda is unwelcome in Saudi Arabia.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      @Not a GOPer
      I stand corrected!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  17. no false witness please

    I actually saw a clip of Mitt Romney on TV saying that the Preident wanted to take God off the dollar bill. He has also said that Obama 'WILL LIE' at the debates. Not very Godly of him to falsey accuse someone. Another reason why religion has no place in politics.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  18. Ronald Regonzo

    The house that George built will become a Mansion under the leadership of Mitt. Romney / Ryan 2012

    September 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  19. LD

    Mormon's believe that there are many gods. They believe the God of the Bible sinned and became a man, Adam. He eventually worked his way up to being God again. He also was a polygamist as was Jesus. Mormons believe that a good mormon man like mitt can one day become a god and rule over his own planet. So, when mitt talks about god he may be talking about himself and the future planet romney.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      What planet does the leader of the free world rule? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      You need to review your facts! Slander does not help your case.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Rich

      Bob, LD's facts are correct. Romney's Morman God, is 6'2" and lives on the planet Oloff.... Check it out. That's what he believes.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Anyone who takes the 10 commandments seriously believes there are more than one god.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      you guys must've come across some weird cult of Mormons.... I've never met a LDS member that believes that crap! ...In their own "religious" way, they do support some good values. While we mock everyone with different beliefs than our own...NONE of us has the answers...til we die. And there are a few that I hope find the answer sooner than others

      September 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • sb

      LD, you have no clue what you are talking about. i am lds, so i know w/o a doubt that the comments you posted are absolutely untrue. That is not what we believe.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Girl Number 20

      The two people above me that are protesting that "Mormons do not believe any such thing," are lying. Mormons believe in Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael. They also believe that Elohim has a wife, the Heavenly Mother. They believe that Elohim was once a man, who lived on a planet near a star called Kolob. That man progressed through his life, living the sacred ordinances, and was rewarded with Godhood. This is what Mitt Romney believes. This is what all Mormons believe. This is what is taught in the secret temple ceremonies that outsiders are not allowed to view. Elohim is God the Father, Jehovah is Jesus, and Michael is Adam - all gods, and all separate people in separate bodies. That is clearly polytheism.

      Any Mormon claiming differently, is lying to you. As proof that I'm telling the truth, you can search YouTube for the person named "NewNameNoah," where you will find his channel devoted to his hidden camera footage of what goes on inside the Mormon temples. The full movie shown to temple patrons is there for all to see, and it contains quite a bit about Elohim, Jehovah and Michael in it. So, you can watch this footage and believe your own eyes, or believe some anonymous people on an internet board telling you that "Mormons really don't believe that."

      September 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Girl Number 20

      I don't know if links will post, but if they do, this is the direct link to over an hour of hidden camera footage inside the Jordan, Utah temple: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VrsFEiTpsQ If the link will not post, look for NewNameNoah's Mormon Temple footage that is 1 hour, 18 minutes long. See for yourselves.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  20. tom

    just when you thought republican stupidity was defined by the words george bush.....

    i guess records are meant to be broken.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.