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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. Evangelical Christian

    I refuse to go against my beliefs and support a lunatic like this man! Mormonism is NOT a Christian religion, it is an abomination! These people are all possessed by demons!
    I for one believe Mr. Obama is a Christian! ..if he was a Muslim he would definitely Not be drinking beer At All!!
    Don't be fooled fellow Christians! Mormons Are Not Christians! They Do Satan's Work To Lead People Away From Christ!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Agreed! Please vote for the least delusional candidate – Obama!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • ScottCA

      Isn't it sad that American politics has devolved to the point that we are trying to decide which candidate is least insane out of the two?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Evangelical Christian

      0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      I will vote for Obama because I think he's a good and decent Christian man who wants to do as Jesus would and help the weak and the poor. Mr. Romney only wants power. He is consumed with every sort of greed!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Dana

      Wow. You are one of the most brain-washed people in the country probably. How long have you had your imaginary friend?

      September 16, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  2. ScottCA

    The insanity of Mormonism.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HSlbuli7HM&w=640&h=390]

    September 15, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Evangelical Christian

      Thank you for posting this! All true christians Have To Know this information!
      Mormonism is Not a Christian religion folks!! It is Satan's work!! Please Do Not Vote For Satan!!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  3. anahadwolves

    If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then, frothing at the mouth about religion is the last refuge of a loser. Romney has flop-sweat all over him. Put a fork i n 'em...he's done.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  4. ScottCA

    Romney just tell them about your magic underwear, and how your are invincible wearing it.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Keeping It Real

      In all fairness, they don't think their "garment" is any more magical than Christians think that about their crosses, St. Christopher medals and rosaries.

      (an easy target for teasing, I know, but it is getting old)

      September 15, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  5. Norm

    Here it comes.
    Romney trying to make the Conservatives forget he's a Mormon again...

    September 15, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  6. Planet Kolob Is A Christian planet??

    When is N.A.S.A. going to locate planet Kolob??
    When is Mittens gonna let everyone in on the joke??

    September 15, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  7. Tigrr

    Mitt is just another puppet for Senior and Cheney, as were Junior and actor Regan.

    Little wonder Romney is pushing for a war, using Lybia as an excuse... he got millions in illegal campaign contributions from Israel during his visit. (See Veterans Today)
    Mitt is pro war, but skipped the draft hiding out in France. See any of his kids in these bogus bush wars? No. See any of Congress or House members kids in these wars? NO. But they're willing to send you and yours to die for their lies and profits.

    Bush's real name was Schreff – Senior and Prescott born in Germany, and Hitler supporters. Little wonder the US is in this mess after Sr became CIA director - aganin see VT for info.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  8. ecivres

    This nation is guilty of wrongdoing. We convict ourselves. This country was built on the knowledge that GOD exists. More power to Mitt Romney for coming out in his glorification of GOD. GOD is real, and he will reveal himself to us in ways that we will regret. How can anyone be concerned about an economy with so much immorality in this world that will eventually destroy us, but for the grace of GOD. Do we even have a future?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Planet Kolob Is A Christian planet??

      Mittens doesn't believe in YOUR God!!! Lol!!!
      Mittens believes he's gonna be God!!!!
      Don't you people know ANYTHING about the Mormon Cult???!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Truewords

      Ask MItt which GOD???? Mormons "God head" consist of infinite "gods"–don't be fooled. ITs polythisit. NOt Christian.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  9. Earth calling Mitt, Come in Mitt!

    Mittens the clown aint got a chance!!
    What a wonderful waste of the "Job Creators" inherited billions!!
    Lol! I'm going to LMAO for months after I watch Mittens give his concession speech!!
    Republicans are such fools! "Ya'all" oughta get real and wake UP!!! Yer all done!!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Truewords

      wow!! so true but his first name is Williard....he's ashame to use it because some "real" MorMons think that name is cowardly due to the actions of one of its "founders". LOL! WILLARD TH RAT!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  10. steve james

    DAN MERICA IS A JERK IN THE NICEST SINCE,THE "GOD" RETHORIC IS WHAT IS DISTORTED IN YOUR BRAIN THE TRASH YOU WRITE ISN'T EVEN FIT ON CNN. YOU AN YOUR BUNCH IM SURE WILL GET WHATS COMING TO YOU.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  11. Tigrr

    This is what the last GOP WH did to NY, America, and the world...
    see youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.
    Yeah, the Bush WH Gang did it. CIA knew. McCain knew. Most of Congress knew.

    Likely they were behind the Lybian attack to force US into another bogus war. Be wary.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  12. Mike Buck

    Welcome to the Theocracy Empire of America (TEA) Party

    September 14, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Norm

      I wouldn't worry too much about it.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  13. peggy

    It gets more absurd by the day with Romney. He is not serious. Jon Huntsman is and he is a Mormon. This guy is a joke.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Mike Buck

      Evangelical; Thenmove to Iran. They have a Theocracy there.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • CanOnTo

      A few months ago, I was afraid Huntsman would become a GOP candidate, as he might have a chance against Obama. Turns out, GOP doesn't like anyone remotely reasonable.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Evangelical Christian

      All Mormons are beholden to Satan. They Are Not Christians!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  14. Earthling

    Will someone please shut these religion-happy peabrains up. Keep that nonsense in church where it belongs, and keep it OUT of my government.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Evangelical

      It's my government too, and I want God in my government.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Mike Buck

      Evangelical; Then move to Iran. They have a theocracy there.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Evangelical,

      Sorry Charlie – the first amendment expressly forbids this.

      Perhaps you are one of those people who are unfamiliar with the notion that 'establishment of religion' == 'state religion'.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Evanidiot, all you have to do is propose a const!tutional amendment to change the first amendment. Well, then you'd likely have to prove your god actually exists, not to mention duke it out with the other cults to decide which god is included. I think it would be highly entertaining but do you really want to put your silly childish beliefs on trial?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Norm

      God is in our government.
      Our elected politicians that believe in God, live their lives by the laws of the Lord.
      At least you would think they do.....right?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Norm,

      since when?

      Like that pacifist Quaker president who carpet-bombed Cambodia. You remember him? Some people called him tricky Dick.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Evangelical

      The First Amendment talks about religion. God is not religion. He is universal.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Evangelical Christian

      It's my government too, but I don't want this man's Satanical beliefs in the White House!
      He Is Not A Christian, He belongs to a cult that is doing Satan's work!!
      President Obama Is A Christian, And, he's been very good to the poor and less fortunate – Just Like Jesus Would Be..!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Evangelical,

      please define your God, without specifying a religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • TRUEWORDS

      OH ATHEIST? HUH?

      YOU ARE KINDA RIGHT THOUGH...ET PHONE HOME.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  15. Umbooga

    Ha ha ha, Romney president, ha ha ha

    September 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  16. COlady

    There we go, catering to the least common denominator again.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  17. tony

    Are we going to see his tax returns at the debates?

    September 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Earth calling Mitt, Come in Mitt!

      LMAO! Nope!!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Norm

      The tax returns would show the millions his company made disposing of dead fetuses from abortions.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • TRUEWORDS

      TONY YOUR ARE CORRECT!! where are those tax returns?? BAin? mafia style company credit line overage then bail?? Maybe Bain stands for BAIL??? I want to see his returns and Utah olympic fund and paper work?? all destroyed?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  18. Z

    Of course, nothing is more important that deciding whether "under god" should stay on our dollar bills.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  19. LD

    religious right

    September 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Earthling

      religious wrong.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  20. LD

    The right would prefer to see the biblical anti-christ elected than see that black man re-elected. that's why they hold their noses and embelish robme for president.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:51 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.