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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.

CNN Belief: Religious exemptions grow in contraception mandate

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. pat

    Looks like Romney is just going to push more moderate republicans like me into voting for Obama...... it is imperative to "remove god from the public square" especially in today's emotionally charged world. Why can we just talk about ehtichs and general beliefs without having to use God to rubber stamp them........

    September 15, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • Lance5862

      Mitt the Twit Rob-Me and Lyin Ryan are Israel-Firsters who would sell out the USA for parasite IsraHell that leeches off of We The American Taxpayers like a blood sucking vampire. Screw Israhell and it's Prime Minister Nutty-Yahoo...if Mitt the Twit Rob-Me and Lyin Ryan love Israhell so much, Americans would be glad to send them a one way ticket there .....'Nuff said!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • john

      VERY WELL SAID 100% AGREE W/ YOU.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • john

      you are correct, look what is happening in the world.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:37 am |
    • truth be told

      You can never have too many ehtichs. What are ehtichs?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:03 am |
  2. hoosier1234

    "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."

    Does anyone remember the old comic book character "Plastic man"? He could stretch out and reach anything.

    Well, the Rev. Hoosier1234, who is a member of the same church as is President Obama, believes that the Rev. James Martin is able to stretch a lot farther than Plastic Man to reach this kind of conclusion.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  3. sasss31

    Another reason to be VERY weary when even considering the thought of Mitt Romney the Joseph Smith follower as President.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:22 am |
    • hoosier1234

      "Wary".

      People who don't know the difference make me "weary."

      September 15, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • sasss31

      Yes, I made a grammar mistake. So what?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • Lori

      I knew what you meant. Grammar police need to stear clear and get a life, fo sho.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  4. dave

    This has to be the phoniest, most transparent moveI have ever seen in my life. Does Romney have a genuine bone in his body or does he just take all his marching orders from FOX Noise and Limbaugh? What a desperation tactic.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:21 am |
    • blueboycott

      As opposed that pandering racist Obama?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:22 am |
    • john

      ohh Blueboycott because of people like you is that we are screwedd !!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:00 am |
  5. Open your eyes

    Keep spouting that, Romney. With each "God" reference, you reveal yourself further as an arrogant, theocratic lunatic who's every decision will be influenced by your own twisted faith. Only a fool would vote for you.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:20 am |
    • blueboycott

      Unlike Mr. ME ME ME? What has he done for anyone except himself?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:23 am |
  6. Micky5537

    Mitt, you're a global embarrassment please just go away!

    September 15, 2012 at 5:20 am |
    • blueboycott

      Global meltdown thanks to Barack and Hillary you mean.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:23 am |
    • Lori

      I agree with you Micky! I think religion should stay in one place. Church... And people need to stop ramrodding it down our throats. Religion, in my opinion, has turned into a weapon. If people would just follow 'the word' and heed to the forgiving tone of the testaments, we wouldn't have this vile contempt toward each other and for those of us who believe or not. I am not a believer but respect those who do. It's called tolerance. Have respect.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  7. Independent

    Why does everything you write about romney sound like a cut? And the quotes that are used seemed very onesided.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • SkepticalOne

      Because Romney is an idiot. It's hard to report the up side.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:21 am |
    • blueboycott

      Because they have nothing good to say about their candidate, they have to bash Governor Romney.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:24 am |
    • hoosier1234

      Because they're a part of the mainstream media - another term for "arm of the Democratic Party."

      September 15, 2012 at 5:30 am |
  8. steve

    A politician playing the God card to get more votes. Loser.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • blueboycott

      Better than the RACE card.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • Lori

      Yes, he is a loser and we will see in November.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:49 am |
  9. DNA

    But he's Mormon ... his god is *weird*

    September 15, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • SkepticalOne

      All gods are weird.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:23 am |
    • blueboycott

      Harry Reid is Mormon too... and we no he is freaking WEIRD.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:25 am |
  10. Tony Rodriguez

    Republicans are great at manipulating religion.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • blueboycott

      Almost as good as dems are at manipulating race.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  11. Chuck

    Romney... Go away! Please... Enough already. You can't win! It's over.. Bye bye, So long... See ya.. What a rube...

    September 15, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • blueboycott

      See him in the White House you mean. You gotta stop drinking all that kool aid

      September 15, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • Lori

      Quit trolling bluecott...

      September 15, 2012 at 5:50 am |
  12. theAntiELVIS

    Tell us the name of the planet "God" lives on, Mitt! (In Mormon theology it's the planet "Kolob".)

    September 15, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • blueboycott

      Tell me where the Christian God lives?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • 2357

      "pray to your Father who is in the secret place"
      God is spirit, which means he has no essential shape volume weight or location. He permeates all things in an overlapping dimension. He presence itself, for he says "I am who (I) am" He is no thing, so the ignorant are prone to confuse him for "nothing". But their ignorance can be changed.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:40 am |
  13. NY Veteran

    Romney increases use of "God": God why am I losing in the polls? God, dont let me lose Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Florida! God, why did I make those stupid remarks about the Embassy in Egypt before I knew anything? God, why did I let Cint Eastwood speak to a chair? God, why did I pick this litle creep with the Eddie Munster widows peak as my Sarah Palin?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:13 am |
  14. Veritas

    Religilous. The religion aspect of humanity is so bizarre; it's min boggling that adults believe in such nonsense.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • Westerman1

      Could not agree more..

      September 15, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Kang Tut

      It is the need for a parent-figure with magical invisible powers that has been reinforced through indoctrination for most religious people.
      It is a belief system based not upon lofty ideals like equality or other human rights, but upon the whims of those who interpret their religion in any way. Each individual does things both similar and different in interpreting religious belief within their own minds, yet all they have to work with are the psychotic remnants of old tribal religions made to instill terror, hate, fear, anger, obedience, stratify society using only the religion as a guide not the rule of law, and to be vague enough and mysterious enough-sounding that it can be used for all criminal conduct the believer could want = rape, murder, plundering, stealing, swindling, slavery, and with plenty of bigotry thrown in so that people can be more easily manipulated by their xenophobic tendencies to stay within the religion.

      Religion is a forced insanity based upon lies and ignorance to subjugate people under the rules that make no sense (but if you don't try to follow these clearly insane rules, your "soul" will be "burned" for all "eternity" for not following these ridiculous and clearly insane rules.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • blueboycott

      Remember that next Friday the 13th when you won't go under a ladder, cross a black cat's path, or let the spilt salt lie.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • Lori

      Agree...

      September 15, 2012 at 5:51 am |
  15. Paul Levy

    There is no God. Get a grip on reality. Religion is the major cause for all wars and people are getting murdered because of a bunch of BS.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:09 am |
    • yale

      No. People are the cause of wars.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • Blue

      You need to swap out "religions" with "ideals"...don't you dare suggest that democracy never started a war...

      September 15, 2012 at 5:26 am |
    • Jeff

      @Yale – usually in the name of god!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • 2357

      Unbelief in God is the cause of all religion. Animals don't have unbelief, so they have no death-anxiety, and no religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:29 am |
    • Lori

      Religion is evil

      September 15, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  16. No one

    How many of the other candidates said God told them to run? Are they still running?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • Mirosal

      "god" might have told them to run, but "god" never said a thing about them winning!! lol

      September 15, 2012 at 5:16 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    September 15, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • SkepticalOne

      LOL

      September 15, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • blueboycott

      All these doubters pray every time they have an emergency in their lives. They don't fool anyone.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:29 am |
    • powerful girl

      Atheism is not healthy for people who have mental problem like u hahaha

      September 15, 2012 at 5:32 am |
    • Lori

      Intolerance at it's best. Get a life.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:53 am |
    • Lori

      Before the grammar police get me, the iPad made its a contraction, not me. I'm an atheist and I'm healthy. This is the problem. The insults start flinging over something another person doesn't understand. I don't understand religion and vice versa. Leave well enough alone and accept each other. How f k n hard is that?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • truth be told

      @lori
      so was typhoid mary

      September 15, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  18. The Thinking Atheist

    Romney you're an embarrassment.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:05 am |
  19. Gpower

    So Mitt Romney, which God are you talking about, Allah or the God of Abraham, LOL.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:57 am |
    • truth be told

      Neither.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • yale

      Wow you're ignorant. They believe in the same God.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • dee1030

      He's talking about the God known as Caymen Islands National Bank!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • 2357

      He says it right there, on the money and on the coins, and in his heart. It's the Mammon god of Mormonia.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:23 am |
    • Kang Tut

      Headline:
      Mormons merely murmuring over their Mammon in massive moronic manipulative mania using mainstream media.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:32 am |
  20. 2357

    Christians can respect the Hebrew commandments, but only out of reverence to Jesus, who was a Jew. If you're a Christian, your foremost object of devotion is the divine person of Christ, not the commandments given to Moses. Your obligation to the Mosaic covenant is indirect, and as interpreted by the spirit of Christ in you. If your inclination is to adhere to the commandments as a primary object of worship, it is doubtful whether the spirit of Christ is in you. You are probably not a Christian, but a counterfeit Hebrew, which is what many false religions are – a knockoff of Mosaic Judaism. Joe smith was a fake Abraham. So was Mohammed. So were numerous others who added to, or overturned, the gospel of the holy apostles.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • Go Ducks

      So then, apparently you know which religion is "right". Is it the flying spaghetti monster? I love how you religious folks try to act like all your ancient scribblings are some kind of a science, always classifying and referring to this or that as proof of something existing.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • 2357

      Another child victim who's been lured into Dick Dawkins parade of pretense. Put down his tool and stop drinking his memes. You'll end up a dirty mess and an embarrassment to your parents.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • 'Nother-Son-'O-Ursus

      Re: "...Christians can respect the Hebrew commandments, but only out of reverence to Jesus, who was a Jew." {2357}

      It seems like Christian-, Jewish &Islamic-Intolerant.monotheist-believers don't quite feel they've had a good day unless they've murdered / maimed someone / some group, particularly, from one or more of each other's belief-systems!

      Fine with me!
      As a Catholic, re-affiliated to NeoPaganism, it’s awfully nice to NOT be getting burnt, alive in the public square, by compassionate conservatives, prolifers-&-evangelical-person-hood-sters anymore...
      I just wish these hyper-superficially-pious-folk would ALL move…as one angry, sociopathic bunch of humans, to an island…
      With one or more REAL, (as opposed to Bush's ‘Imaginary’...) W.M.D.’s, set it off…
      And enjoy the rest of eternity!

      …Someplace OTHER than where the rest of humanity is!!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • SkepticalOne

      Praise be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Pasta beats dogma every time.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:29 am |
    • Mirosal

      You actually have no idea WHO wrote those "gospels". No one does, not even the "experts" in mythology.. oops I mean theology. The writers of those books had NO IDEA that what they were writing were to become some sort of "holy text". They simply wrote letters to people, expressing their own personal views. Not a single author set about to create a "new testament" as you now call it.
      As far as being a child victim ... did you send your kids to religious schools? Maybe to a bible camp?.. then you are turning them into victims as well, because you deny them the chance to think for themselves and what THEY want. And THAT is also abu'se.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • 2357

      Texts and men are made holy by the divine person of God who revealed himself through those media. His words have a self-authenticating nature, which only became apparent for me after decades of awareness. Theology is not abuse. Theology is the ultimate purpose of all learning, and the meaning of meaning. Perhaps you mistake one type of knowledge as the only true knowledge?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:54 am |
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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.