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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. guido

    Which God is Mitt Romney going to make sure going to keep in America. Is it the one that Joseph Smith said told him to have as many wives as he wanted and to go to the desert to do it. I guess that is the God that the Republicans pray to.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  2. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    They all invoke, God, truth absolute, but deny God, truth absolute in their deed's, bunch of hindu's, crooks, out to hind, defraud God, truth absolute and humanity by their hindu Judaism, filthy secular ism.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  3. emmittkitty

    Good grief....Romney is pandering to everyone under the sun. Romney is now exploiting God to win an election. Didn't he just try to expoit an international crisis to gain a few points? Who believes this guy anymore? I'll take a president who quietly practices his faith over a wannabe who makes promises he has no intention of keeping.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  4. 0rangeW3dge

    Hell, I'm more offended by “we are nation under God.”
    I want to choose my own "Gods" and not have your version forced on me...
    ...and I believe the American legal system already supports me on that....AND, I will not stand for anyone changing that !!!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • kneomatrix

      So the problem is that there is a God and of course there is only one God, so it behoves you to meet that God, not false gods or gods that you invent. All of those millions of beliefs can never change this reality. The first step is realizing that there is a God and obviously there can only be one otherwise you would have a big, giant, universal mess as with those ficitonal Greek gods. Anyway this is all mute that we are talking about a man talking about God when he is a member of one of the most powerful, dangerous, unbiblical cults in the world. He has no idea about the real God.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  5. Mon Dieu!

    Almost 80 years ago Sinclair Lewis famously warned that fascism would arrive "wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross". Obviously nothing's changed.

    And I love how the "God Squad" extremists always manage to toss out the red herring that those evil secularists are all lined up to remove In God We Trust from coins and bills, even though there's about ZERO evidence to support their rantings. They know so little history – or choose to ignore it – that they don't realize the motto didn't appear on _any_ coins until 1864, near the end of the Civil War, and wasn't on all coins until 1938. What's more, it wasn't put on paper money until the 1950s at the height (well, depths) of Cold War anti-communist hysteria. The far right can't get their little heads around the fact that the Greatest Generation went off to war without a single piece of paper money carrying the motto. They were up against Nazi forces who all wore buckles and emblems emblazoned "Gott Mit Uns" – God Is With Us – and guess who won? Hint ... I'm writing this in English, not German.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Mais oui, Mon Dieu!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  6. Joe

    GOD does not advocate making the poor suffer while the rich get richer. There is nothing godly about these so-called "evangelicals" nor their republican puppets. Satan has almost certainly infiltrated the government, and Romney is no exception. They promote fascism, suppress the vote, to keep poor people suffering and rich prospering, all while claiming to be biblical and holy. Jesus had some choice words for the puppets of the future: you will not be getting into heaven, you fake Christians who profess faith with one side of your forked tongue yet plunder from the middle class behind the scenes to enrich yourself. Wealth corrupts. Power corrupts. Where are your tax returns Mr. Romney? You have plenty to hide, don't you, coward.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  7. Jimmy Carter for President

    OBAMA FLASHBACK: The Day I'm Inaugurated Muslim Hostility Will Ease

    Then-Senator Barack Obama makes the case for an Obama Presidency on November 21, 2007 by saying he is uniquely qualified to bring stability to America's relationships in the Muslim world because he lived in an Islamic country during his youth and his half-sister is Muslim.

    Note at the end he said he "may" be a Christian.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2012/09/14/FLASHBACK-Obama-The-Day-Im-Inaugurated-Muslim-Hostility-Will-Ease

    September 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Mon Dieu!

      If In Breitbart You Trust, perhaps you'd also be interested in buying some land off the coast of Florida. It has a bit of a moisture problem but hey, that's just a detail.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Jimmy Carter for President

      It is a video of Obama's words FOOL!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom

      Is there an actual point? Or is this just more deflection and stupidity?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  8. Peter Metz

    I could care less what he does with God, I'm worried about his magic underwear.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  9. Bob, NY

    Think of a state that you'd consider living/working, and raising your family....now check out the electoral college map on CNN.
    If you have any thought process....I'd bet it was blue! jus say'n

    September 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  10. Banda53

    When you have to bring God into the campaign it's a pretty good sign you have nothing else to offer.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I posted this earlier today, but I'll break my repost rule here ...

      RNC pseudo code for the Romnoid:

      WHILE date < november_6
      IF romney_poll < obama_poll THEN
      PRINT "Talk about God";
      ELSE
      PRINT "Talk about economy";
      LOOP;
      END;

      Yep, they're that desparate.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  11. kay

    Romney doesn't practice what he preaches. He should stop lying .

    September 14, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  12. 0rangeW3dge

    Mitt Romney better understands the "special relationship" with God (perhaps, all Gods) than does Barack Obama, so says Mitt

    September 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Leslie Todd

      Okay sounds good ......... AHHHH .... Is he talking about the Mormon GOD ? Please fill me in on this one ,,,,,,,,,
      If elected we will need to know which GOD ......... Or will he tell us after he is in the OVAL OFFICE ?.
      ........ Surrounded in Mystery .........

      September 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  13. John Master

    Did anybody bother counting how many times the atheist Obama invoked "god" today? Pathetic hypocracy .

    September 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Chemack56

      You're a pitiful clown John Master.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      John Master Baiter
      You gotta be a tea-bagger. Like a fly, you eat crap and bother people! I'd bet you're using your Mommy's laptop!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • John Master

      Bob in NY, real cool, nothing intelligent to say, no surprise there, so make fun of a persons name. Typical liberal attack with no substance.
      Obama, who is Christian or Muslim as the wond low or depending on his audience, started with a new testament quote, cited god 3 times in one sentence nd finished with a new testament quote. Only a moron could fall for this fools crap. He is a complete loser and his lack of experience, honesty, integrity and his amateurish abilities, along with his loathing for his ountry will result in our destruction. Bring it on liberals , call me names make insults. You just can't handle the truth.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • John Master

      Wond low should read wind blows

      September 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  14. John Gault

    Finally god and rhetoric in the same sentence where they belong together. If religion did not exist an American ambassador would be alive today.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  15. Bob

    Way to win an election, Mitt! Tell the country you will base it on your cult religion!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Run4DaHills

      Yeah, kinda funny; a morman cult member reaching out to the christian cult members at Liberty University. Not more than 20 years ago, some folks would not even have wanted to associate with a Mormon. Jerry Falwell must be rolling in his grave that a Mormon gave the commencement speech at Falwell's bible school. Pat Robertson, surely, must be concocting some kind of "message from God" that will allow him to save face and support Romney. What a farce.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  16. Anne

    How does someone who claims to be a Christian, which Mitt Romeny cannot claim, support this man? Pat Robertson (who was seen clapping so hard in support of Mitt I thought his hands would fall off) has on his very own website that being a Morman is against the Christian faith, and is a cult. It is not Biblical. I am really struggling with how all these Evangelical Christians who claim to believe in the Bible, and who believe in Jesus Christ can support someone who doesn't believe this. Who can also support someone who just blatantly lies and who goes against scripture and continues to disrespect the office of the President. This man simply scares the wits out of me. Every time he opens his mouth, I cringe with fear because if he is elected President, he will do or say something that will simply cause one of our enemies or allies to simply attack the US. He has no class, no morals or no common sense.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Anne,

      they use the same cognitive dissonance they use when they choose to believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, or that they can pray away the gay, or that Fox News really is 'fair and balanced'.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Leslie Todd

      What ever you say ........... me too ........... The very name " LDS OF JESUS CHRIST " They have Prophets too .
      The Church appoints them . WOW..........

      September 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  17. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    I forgive you Romney even though I know all you really want to do is protect your way of making money and more of it. Maybe next time around you can learn that money is not very useful when changing out bodies. Here's a clue help make the world a better place so when you reincarnate it wont su©k so much to be poor.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  18. Jimmy Carter for President

    I think Jimmy Carter should have run for the Liberals! It would have been better than a second term of Obama!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Pop the Zitt Mitt!

      Losing in the polls, no credibility left, and the debates coming soon. Yeah, divine intervention is his only chance.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • huh?

      “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung

      It’s easier to label a person (liberal for example) than it is to look below the surface and understand why we’re reacting so strongly. We fail to consider complex factors, and instead reduce a situation to one simple explanation.

      "Most people don't live aware lives. They live mechanical lives, mechanical thoughts - generally somebody else's - mechanical emotions, mechanical actions, mechanical reactions." – Anthony De Mello

      September 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  19. JohnReedjr

    Romney is reinforcing the fringe elements with his rhetoric about God. God is manifest in actions, not statements that infer others are godless. I think he has decided the only way he can win is to whip up the right wing base and suppress the vote where possible.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  20. Travelmore

    I am offended at your topic how Romey is increasing the "God rhetoric" .......please don't use these 2 words in the same sentence.......how offensive to me as a Christian......but I guess that is ok to offend Christians, just not Muslims!!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What does this topic have to do with Muslims?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Why are you offended?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • huh?

      Please look up the meaning of rhetoric and revise your post.

      "Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated." – Martin Luther King, Jr.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • kflanigan

      God rhetoric!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:20 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.