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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. roger

    As a catholic I would NEVER elect a priest or bishop or monsignor to the office of president.It is when an organized religion gets it foot hold into the highest office in this country that we will have a problem.One only needs to look at the mid-east to see what can happen to a country where a particular religion dictates what the rules will be.The Mormon religion is very secretive in its leaders and their power structure. Their internal structure is nearly the same as the Catholic religion. Romney is a bishop in this church and that equates to having a priest or bishop of the catholic church in office. I love the Catholic church but I do not want to return to the 14th century and the abuses that the church took while having the power to decide rules for everyone.These same abuses take place with Mullahs and Muslims now.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Finally someone who ADMITS that the Catholic rule during the Dark Ages was NOT a good thing. Well said Roger, well said.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  2. jake

    Enough with the God talk. It's 2012. Lets focus on things that are real.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Reality and Federal elections? Is there an intersection of those two concepts anywhere?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  3. works4me

    God doesn't like it when one uses Him for political gain.

    Really Mitt???... really??

    September 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  4. jackie

    Oops, they forgot to mention that Fr. James Martin is a strong Obama supporter.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Wasn't that obvious?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  5. sqeptiq

    Mitt is dyslexic; he meant to say dog.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Singularity

      I'm holding my remote control, right now. And.... I'm changing things. Maybe you should start praying to _me_.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Apparently it doesn't change diapers.. I tried.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      List of things prayer does not change:

      The outcome of illnesses, especially children.
      The outcome of war
      The lottery
      Diapers
      My position of religion
      Mitt Romney's chances for President
      Death
      Taxes
      Idiots who are trying to restrict women's health rights.
      The Weather
      The outcome of Saturday's football game, well at least not for the losing side.
      The size of my wife's Tata's
      My salary
      The idiot driver who cut me off this morning on my way into Boston
      My TV Chanel
      Fox news, if it did they would be much more liberal
      The fact that I have to fix dinner tonight
      and finally, it hasn't fixed my wife's disease that will eventually lead to her death....

      Prayer changes NOTHING!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      My thing doesn't need changing.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      It does and very badly. The sooner the better the stench reaches to the high heavens.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • paul

      Thats the most bizzare thing i've ever heard

      September 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  8. JUGGERNAUT

    http://www.upworthy.com/watch-even-fox-news-is-tired-of-romneys-evasive-campaign?c=la1

    September 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • JUGGERNAUT

      WATCH: Even Fox News Is Tired Of Romney's Evasive Campaign

      September 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Rupert Murdoch and his Fox minions have no patience for candidates that won't (or can't) stick to the script that they wrote for him.

      They've invested a lot in this candidate and need a return on their investment. This is punishment to get back on message.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  9. tom

    mitt, keep talking, stupid.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  10. Shelley Mitchell

    I may not agree with the morman religion, but I do know that according to the bible...a nation without GOD is a nation left to itself. I did not agree with a chip in the hand in healthcare when Hillary Clinton had that in her healthcare plan and I don't agree with it now in Obama's plan. It amazes me how 80 percent of Americans claim to be christians, but God keeps getting kick out of places. Why? Because of 20 percent. I would say the numbers are way off or a christians we do not have backbones. That includes myself. Chip in the hand and mark of the beast sound too close for comfort for me. It may not be, but what if it is????? We would all be required to have it. Scary.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • risky

      I do not require a bible to live my life in peace, so why do you insist that the whole country does?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Are you insane or do you just play it on CNN.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      Hillary and Obama want chips in your hand? Damn, I must've missed Faux-news that night! I bet they want us to eat 'soilant green' too.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Dan

      I could be wrong, but I think the Christian God isn't commonly portrayed as a prankster, as if he were flippin' Loki. "You thought you were getting a medical chip in your hand? Ha, surprise! It's the mark of the beast! You're going to hell!"

      September 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Singularity

      By 'chip', are you talking about Vegas-style chips? Because, if they're handing those out, cool. Also: you should probably seek medical assistance for the blow to the head you must have suffered recently.

      Sincerely,
      Please Don't Breed

      September 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • ???

      I have to admit I miss this one,what are you talking about? Are you referring to the schip program?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  11. just wondering

    FAIL thou shall not lie....

    September 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  12. ROCKWOOD

    You thank that Mormon God is going to accept anyone else than Mormons? I'm only capitalizing out of respect..... The answer would be no.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  13. Randy

    It's clear that CNN.com has officially become a personal website for the Obama campaign shredding whatever remained of it's journalistic credibility.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • RS1201

      I totally agree...CNN is shameless...no integrity...no scruples...nothing even resembling journalism!!!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • rastafanman

      And maybe it's time for Romney to return to Kolob

      September 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      So.........go elsewhere. No one dragged you here.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Genome

      Then why are you here? (confused)

      If you hate CNN or think it is biased, don't read news from here!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Clearly you haven't watched Fox News – they don't even pretend to actually be fair and balanced!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      Except when they say stuff that 'R's want you to believe. The whole world is in the tank for Obama...except Fox, of course!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Patrick Lewis

      Reality has a liberal bias.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  14. Robin Bray

    For those of us who can think for ourselves and got over the god notion when we were just kids Romney looks so much more the desperate fool. It just shows that the principle of the separation of church and state is unknown to him and he clearly would not represent all Americans of all beliefs.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      and to normal folks Romney is like a breath of fresh air. Romney / Ryan 2012

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

      @Ronald, your performance art is Hillarious!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      In an insane group like the teapublican party, insanity IS normal; so yes, you are normal.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  15. Don't care who or what he worships

    I don't care about his religion. ....I care that the world does not end up in a damn war that will take my kids because Romney has NO political dIplomacy !

    September 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Your kid will gladly serve in the Iran wars to help reduce his parents reeducation stay in Guantanamo. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  16. cyg

    Guess there is no seperation of church and state in the land of GOP. Sounds like it's time to start taking scalps again...

    September 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Bert in UT

      But what about the threat to remove "In God We Trust" from our coins? Mitt has promised to protect us against that. Please Mitt, keep us safe.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  17. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    GREAT just what we need MORE god in politics...NOT!!!!!!! Come on people without god, spread the word.. Separation of Church and State!

    September 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • swin - Pittsburgh

      Only thing is, as God has been removed more and more from this country, we've gone more and more downhill. Is there a correlation?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      swin, no, there is no correlation.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      No swin.. look to some of the most secular countries in the world and you get: high literacy rates, low crime rates, better healthcare, stronger civil participation in government, and lower poverty rates. Sounds like god's not needed for government.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      This whole sad story got started when Constantine legalized christianity.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      There may be a correlation, but given that almost assuredly there're no gods, it is highly unlikely there Is causation.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      Mormons are not Christians

      September 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • End Religion

      Christians are not christians.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  18. babs

    those racist baptists will vote for a polygamouse non-chritian cultist rather than a black man

    September 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • swin - Pittsburgh

      Sounds to me like you're the racist.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • bodyGas

      Couldn't have said it better!!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • RS1201

      babs

      You really should think about going back to school...you're an imbecile

      September 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • johnrjones

      First being a Baptist does not equal being a racist.... I should know since I am a Baptist. I do agree though that the Mormon religion and the off shoot religions from it are not " Christian "religion. What Romney is doing is a smart move....he is stirring up his base and conservative independents. He is also using a very old Republican tactic as to infer that the government is trying to take something traditional away. Such as In God We Trust on our coinage and dollar bill. This accusation means that the government wants to remove God all together.....i.e. not allow us to worship God. It's a scare t attic and is totally untrue. .

      September 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      "polygamouse"
      Love or marriage with more than one mouse simultaneously.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @johnrjones,

      indeed so. They can't win on the real issues, so they're inventing new ones.

      Of course the only people they'll fool with this are the ignorant, but ignorant votes count the same as everyone else's. No different to Florida butterfly ballots in 2000.

      1. Keep the poor, students and elderly from voting. (If that's not enough ...)
      2. Extend polling hours in districts that lean right. (Ohio, if that's not enough ...)
      3. If you're behind in the polls talk about God
      4. Create a ficticious fearmongering campaign issue
      – "Buy ammunition now before Obama bans guns." (NRA 2008)
      – "Obama's taking God off the currency." (RNC 2012)

      September 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @John, I disagree partly in your statement, it depends on where you are a Baptist. In the South, if you are a Southern Baptist, you are required to be a racist in some churches. Case in point, my Father in law was a Baptist minister and when my wife and I got married, the Deacons of the Church came to me and said I could not invite my black friends to the wedding if we had it in the Baptist Church.. We got married in the larger Methodist church instead.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  19. jack johnson

    The election is not to elect God as president it's to elect a leader to lead us. A true religious person would not be able to send our troops into battle (THOU SHALT NOT KILL) thy shall not bare false witness, Agrees with adultry (the bible doesn't beleive in divorce so anyone gets remarried he is commiting adultry)

    September 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • swin - Pittsburgh

      If your grammar was correct then maybe I would understand what you are saying.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Mitchell Moore

      So what you're saying is even if that person is a lying, cheating, physical and mental abuser, don't divorce them and marry someone that will make you happy because the BIBLE is against it? You sound ridiculous...

      September 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      If The Babble, religious cults and their gods are so powerful and correct, why are 70+% of abortions in the USA had by believers?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  20. Dan

    Does everyone realize Romney was a 31 year old grown man in a church that de facto preached the inferiority of black people, before they changed their policies? If only journalists had the guts to address this.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I agree!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • swin - Pittsburgh

      And for most of Obama's formative years he was raised in a Muslim country with a religion that tells you to hate everybody. So what's the point?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • End Religion

      Positively sickening.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • End Religion

      That's it swin, Spin, jab and feint. Don't bother with facts.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:15 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.