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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. Tim Moore

    There's a storm coming, Mr. Romney. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  2. diogeron

    Romney sounds desperate, willing to pander to anyone to get elected. Not working, Willard. Try actually explaing what you would do different from W, given that your advisors (like John Bolton) were his advisors.

    Why no W, Cheney or Palin @ the convention? Because Mitt's best hope is that the American people have amnesia.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • Chris33

      Republicans don't believe in evolution, global warming, or the presidency of George W. Bush.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:57 am |
  3. diogeron

    Romney would pander to Al-Queda if he thought it would help him get elected. This man has no moral, intellectual, or political core beyond wanting to be president. He bought the GOP nomination and with the help of the "dark" $ and Super-Pacs, is trying to buy the presidency. This, like his absurd claim that Obama somehow sympathized with the people who killed our ambassador, smacks of desperation.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:49 am |
  4. Chris33

    George W. Bush inherited a strong economy, a budget surplus, and a nation at peace.

    Eight years later, he left Obama with a shattered economy, a trillion dollar deficit, and two useless wars.

    Obama saved the country from another Great Depression, rebuilt GM, reformed healthcare, reformed Wall Street, doubled the stock market, created 12 straight quarters of GDP growth, created 30 straight months of private sector job growth, got Bin Laden, got Gaddafi, and got us out of Iraq.

    And now with the automatic spending cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2012, Obama has solved the deficit problem as well.

    Obama has done a very good job.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • Matt

      Bush was left with a recession, and the FY 2001 Budget, passed under Clinton, which was a deficit. The claims about Obama are somewhat accurate, but both the GM and Wall Street reforms are inadequate, and doubling the stock market means almost nothing. In conclusion, this election is about whether we want Democrats to filibuster everything or allow Republicans to continue to do so

      September 16, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • Chris33

      GDP grew the last quarter of 2000.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  5. SuSu

    Time will tell. Let your words be sweet for someday you may have to eat them.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:01 am |
    • End Religion

      This explains my tendency to glaze my words and cover them in chocolate sprinkles.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  6. Chris33

    Mitt Romney said, "Let Detroit go bankrupt."

    In Romney's world the cars get the elevator, and the auto workers get the shaft.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  7. Peter Wolfe

    Many people on here are spewing racism but probably can't tell that I'm a fourth native american and have white pale skin and could honestly careless for bigotted people. Somethings you can' pray away like me being with a black man before or the infinant stupidity of the ignorant masses! Overall foreigners have treaed this disabled american boy better than many fellow americans in college and outside of it whether volunteering or just being my friend!

    September 16, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  8. Deb Mase

    This goes to prove what a hypocrite Romney and the Republicants are. Being a mormon, Romney's religion does NOT center on the God of the Bible. But even with all his TALK about God - and that's all it really amounts to - Romney STILL doesn't have a prayer...

    September 16, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • youpeople@

      Also goes to show you that evangelicals are bunch of hypocrites for their support of Romney who holds totally different religious beliefs than themselves.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  9. dou44

    Fundamental fascism with Wal-Marts and overseas wars. Mitt Robme.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  10. AvdBerg

    Mitt Romney’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ but rather in an image of the spirit and god of this world and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency of the USA, we invite you to read the articles ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’, ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’, ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, ‘Boston University – School of Theology and Stonehill College’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
    Liberty University, BYU and all other Theological schools and seminaries are the training grounds for false apostles (Mark 13:22). The Gospel of Christ cannot be taught by mankind but can only be revealed by the Spirit of God (Gal. 1:12). For a better understanding of this mystery, we invite you to read the article ‘Ye Need Not That Any Man Teach You’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  11. Doc Ock

    Strange how the guy who follows the religious teachings of a man christian churches label as a heretic and a false prophet is momentarily the hero of the religious right. Interesting how they`re not afraid of the wrath of God and banishment to hell for following this sinful path. Funny how hypocrisy works huh?

    September 16, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • youpeople@

      I think we all thinking along that same line too......Maybe because they are all as dumb as rocks?

      September 16, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  12. Jack Kenney

    Which God is that, anyway? The one that lives near Kolob? I mean, really.....do you really want to talk religion?

    September 16, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  13. MoveForward

    Sound like he's racheting up an attack on seperation of church and state. Just one more anti-american, pro-theocracy lunatic.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  14. ScottCA

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLIKAyzeIw4&w=640&h=390]

    September 16, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  15. Chris33

    “The Republicans believe in the minimum wage — the more the minimum, the better.” – Harry Truman

    September 16, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  16. Michelle48

    These republican tactics are SOO Transparent it is almost laughable! It is a shame to say this, but it wouldn't suprise me at all if it was found that Carl Rove leaked the Islamic Film! I know that is crazy but I'm starting to think these right wings nuts will go to any level to win reelection.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Habanero

      I thought it possible also. Kind of like the Obama movie out in theatres. Smart and scary of them.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  17. youpeople@

    Since Mitt's religion believes in many gods, which god is he referring to? His father, his ancestors? His ancestor who was a deserter and traintor to the US? Charles Henry (Carl Heinrich) Wilkcen? We want to know! IN WILKEN WE TRUST?

    September 16, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  18. Chris33

    Could the contrast be any greater between Romney, who looted American companies and shipped their jobs overseas, only pays taxes at a 13% rate, stashes his money in the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes, and President Obama who saved GM and created 30 straight months of private sector job growth?

    September 16, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  19. Dan

    The mormon "God" is not the God of the Bible. I wish that we had another choice for who will run this country. As it is, it's either going to be a muslim or a cult member. God (the real one) help us.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • ScottCA

      I know what you mean. Where is Zues when we need him?

      September 16, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • John

      In fairness, the God of the Mormons IS the God of the Old and New Testaments. Don't for a minute think Romney worships some pagan God just because he's a Mormon. That said, I wouldn't vote for the guy in a million years, even if God told me to do so. Romney represents everything anti-Christian I can think of, like his talking hate about his opponent and wanting to take from the poor and give to the rich.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  20. Chris33

    To Republicans "job creation" is code for tax cuts for the rich. We tried that for the last 30 years, and it has not worked. Why? Because 70% of the economy is consumer demand. Putting more and more money in fewer and fewer hands reduces demand. Raise taxes on the rich, cut defense, and balance the budget the way Clinton did. George Bush almost destroyed America. Let's bring it back.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Deb Mase

      Here, here! Very well-said.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:30 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.