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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. Buddy Edgewood

    If you think GWB was a bible thumper, you ain't seen nothing yet – just wait until Magic Underwear Mitt Romney takes office and brings Mormonism into national politics. He'll be working hard to make all the US like Utah.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Huebert

      If he tries to make us all drink 3.2% beer I'm moving to Canada.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  2. Karlokarl

    Yeah, I'd start praying too, Mitt.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  3. Momof3

    Can we please just make religion gooooo awaaayyyyyy! Its annoying and does nothing but cause problems.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Where the hell is the fucking "Like" button?

      Mom has just won the internets!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  4. Barth Gimble

    That's great that he's invoking God, because prayer is all he has left to try and win now.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  5. TheMagusNYC

    With so many gods already embodied across the cosmos, and so many yet to achieve that status, which one is Mr. Romney referring to?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • wendles

      Mitt is not letting evangelicals in on "the secret"......only Mormons will live happily ever after in "eternity".....

      September 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  6. ouy

    If Romney truely was a man of GOD. he would not be saying and doing the things that he is doing to undermine the president and make the DEVILS tactics his own. simply he is just another loser.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  7. gop usa

    Romney has no chance invoking god in his speaches when he is not a christian.Romney is nothing but a cultist who will say and do anything to advance his Skidmarked Magical Underwear cult of weirdos,conmen,molesters,rapists..polygamists,sisterwives......Warren Jeffs would be so Proud.....

    September 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Who me?

      Catholics eat the body of their god.Catholics drink his blood.That's weird.Catholics employ rapists and molesters.That's not good.Catholics hide rapists from justice.That's bad.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Buddy Edgewood

      I've got news for ya: all organized religions are 'cults'.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  8. Howard

    The biased, partisan, main stream media has consistently promoted and sold Obama to the American public ... while trashing and demonizing his opponents. Along with the brain washed Obama zombies, they have catapulted Obama into the role of 'Fuhrer' ... and of 'Dear Leader'. The Obama Stooges love Obama more than they love America. Obama is destroying America. America is more important than Obama. Obama is expendable and replaceable ... America is not. Save America ... Elect Romney and Ryan in November !!!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • wendles

      'oy vey' what ignorance!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • gop usa

      Romney is a anti christian cultist.........Sorry but many gop do not support Romney AND WILL STAY HOME IN NOVEMBER.WE WILL NOT SELL OUT OUR FAITH AND VALUES TO PUT A MAGICAL UNDERWEAR CULTIST IN THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE LAND

      September 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • TheMagusNYC

      Admiration for the President of the United States is merited.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      thanks for the rhetoric howard, we do like a good giggle every now and then

      September 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • bkgrandma

      There are many religious people in America who, like myself, believe in the separation of church and state. We do not flaunt our belief in God because we believe that is between us and God. I will not vote for anyone who thinks that just because they are religious they deserve my vote. I vote for the person I think will do the best job so this year I will vote OBAMA / BIDEN

      September 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Buddy Edgewood

      Spoken like a true-blue Fox News contributor. We know you didn't come up with all that on your own, so the only other place you could have plagiarized it from is from Fox...

      September 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  9. gary

    Psst ... god is pretend , just folklore and myth. There is NO reason to believe in any deity or demon. No evidence of either. Belief in them is ancient myth and folklore; same as dragons, unicorns, leprechauns.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • TheMagusNYC

      You are confused about valid distinctions between matters of faith, myths, and evidence.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      "You are confused about valid distinctions between matters of faith, myths, and evidence."

      well the greek and roman tales about god are considered 'myth' not 'faith' so i think the claim made about the chrisitian god is a good comparison.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  10. Chuk

    Desperation time. Maybe moving further right will help him – as if there are more votes there. Moron.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • wendles

      Did you mean the "Angel Moroni"? goes well w/ moron

      September 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  11. Nikki

    I wonder if Romney clicks his heels once or twice to activate his Mormon Magical Underwear he believes Protects him from evilll. Can Romney put his undies on his head and use them like radar for evil or can he see through walls? Where does the power come from? is it his skidmark that gives his underwear power?????? Lol the cultists have the weirdest things....Magical underwear....whats next Magical buttplugs???????

    September 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Kinda like the other Christian nutters who wear crosses around their necks? Is that what you mean?

      Cause ALL religions are cults. And all sects of all religions are just as bad as the rest.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  12. Hillcrester

    I see that RomneyBain has launched the "I am not a Muslim" phase of his failing/flailing campaign, following upon his "I don't need to show a birth certificate" tour. The man is untreated sewage that needs treatment ASAP.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  13. carlos

    as a worshipper of a con man, liar and POLYGAMIST j.smith, the willard has the nerve to inject religion being a cultist himself. really nauseating and to think that people will vote for this classless individual shows a lot about their ignorance.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Huebert

      "Some say that Joseph Smith is a sinner for having so many wives, But I have meet the wives, and I tell you the man is a saint!"

      -Mark Twain

      September 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      Heh, Huebert. Here are pictures of a few of them:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Joseph_Smith%27s_wives

      September 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • ME II

      Huebert,
      That doesn't sound like Twain, to me, do you have a citation?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      More along those lines from Mark Twain:

      Roughing It – Chapter 14, pages 97-98

      "Our stay in Salt Lake City amounted to only two days, and therefore we had no time to make the customary inquisition into the workings of polygamy and get up the usual statistics and deductions preparatory to calling the attention of the nation at large once more to the matter.

      I had the will to do it. With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here—until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically "homely" creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, "No–the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which ent'itles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their harsh censure–and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence."

      September 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  14. Aunt Esther

    LOL at the Dems who denied God three times before the rooster crowed at the latest DNC convention.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • ME II

      Is this supposed to make sense? (and yes I understand the reference to Jesus's prophecy about Peter.)

      September 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Glinda

      Click your heels together 3 times, Auntie, and Dorothy &Toto will get home directly.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  15. JCW

    What he wears in his heart or in bed is of little concern to voters, but he should explain better how he would cut tax, increase defense spending, and reduce national debt all at the same time.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  16. Puzzled in Peoria

    “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.

    Someone needs to remind Mr. Romney that God is not an "it."

    September 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Who me?

      If god is not an it,then what is it?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ME II

      First, I think he was referring to the word 'God' in the platform.
      Second, how do you know God is not an it?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  17. "Head" Bishop

    I can deal with a president that panders to the religious just to gain votes but when they actually claim to believe it & then "up" their belief, it's just plain scary. We can't have leaders that are truely & admitedly delusional.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  18. m

    Step right up folks Step right up!!!!!! Romney is giving out some goodies at the Republican Convention!!!!!! First you will reciev a free pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR that protects you from evil when you click your heels together,and only the most devout shall never take them off even during a bath.Then you will recieve a picture of The Mormon Messiah Joesoph Smith who the Mormons worship over Jesus,Joesoph Smith was a con man,molester,Polygamist and a murderer,yet he is revered higher than christ.......Then you will recieve the BOOK OF MORMON that the con man molester Joesoph Smith wrote to help him control his followers and Brainwash them....You will also recieve the teachings on how all people of color are products of evil.....like the Mormon church teaches.Last but not least you will recieve directions to the planet in outer space named KOLOB where the Mormons believe their god lives and if you die wearing your Mormon Magical Underwear you will become a god too and fly in outer space to be with Joesoph Smith on KOLOB wih as many wives as you want.......THIS IS NOT CHRISTIAN IN ANY WAY!!!!! Romney can click his heels to activate his magical underwear all he wants but christians will not buy his Phoney garbage religion......This religion was made up by a polygamist murderer who conned so many in the 1800s conservative repub christians will not vote or support such an evil vile man like Romney.Draft dodger.....cultist....tax evader......magic underwear...it just keeps getting better and better.............Romney does not belong anywhere but a padded room..................He can take his cultist skidmarked underwear back to Utah where all the cultists live.... Warren Jeffs is probably waiting for his pardon from jail the second his Bishop Romney getsd elected,people like Romney belong in jail nowhere else....

    September 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Who me?

      I very much prefer to believe that a person(god?)died for our sins(which were given by god).When he died he came back to life and floated to the sky where he now lives with his dad(god?).He will come back some day as a god.He will kill everyone except his favourite people-who will be allowed to go to the sky with him and live with his dad(him?).Now that's a story I can believe.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Orwell prefers Guyana punch

    What does God say about those TAX RETURNS?

    Do the voting mortals get an accounting?

    As a bishop, there could be some interesting deductions.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • "Head" Bishop

      Romney needs to "Give to Ceasar what is Ceasars".

      September 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  20. gop usa

    am a Republican and I will not sell out my christian faith to support a Mormon cultist.No matter how Mormons try to spin it they are sicko cultists and are NOT CHRISTIAN.....there are no crosses on their church,no bible,wears Magical underwear or pantys.......weirdo rituals,polygamy,sisterwives......molestation of women and children and the abuse of women and children to make sure they keep it all secret. Mormons are just as bad a Johovas whitnesses or heavens gate cult...Satan worshippers.......but NOT CHRISTIAN and many conservative christian repubs will not support such a vile man like Romney we will stay home in November...Just what we need is a man in the whitehouse who thinks his skidmarked underwear has magical powers and will protect him from evil...........Will he confront Iran with his undies tightly clinched between his buttcheeks while he clicks his heels ? Will his powers of the allmighty skidmark help him protect us??? Does Romney wear his wifs Magical pantys??? We will never know folks..But what we do know is Romney is definately a weirdo and should never step into the whitehouse with his possesed cult magical underwear....Next thing we will be seeing is Romney making Magical Underwear standard issue for the Military......because who needs body armor to protect you from bullets when you have Mormon magical skidmarked cultist underwear just like Mitt wears to protect you!!!!!! Romney is a weirdo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Huebert

      Thanks for not voting. :D

      September 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • "Head" Bishop

      Just please don't sell out your country "because" for your religious faith.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the newcomers:

      AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As does Biden and Ryan)

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:28 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.