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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. Betty Boop

    Brilliant. Romney needs to get the moderate independant undecideds, and instead he is pandering to the radical fundamentalist religious right, who he already has as much as he is ever going to.

    Brilliant strategy, Mitt. That's the wisdom we want in a president.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  2. DaninDC

    Wow CNN and most of the commenters here are incredibly cynical. Did it ever occur to you people that Mitt is not Barack? He is not motivated for purely narcissistic and political reasons. His "God talk" is not rhetoric, it is who he is.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Dan,

      the "God talk" as you put it includes the idea that "In God we trust" on currency has to be defended for some reason.

      This is not Mittens talking about his beliefs. This is a manufactured fear-mongering campaign issue, no different to the NRA's 2008 "buy ammunition now before Obama outlaws guns" campaign.

      Perhaps we are cynical, but your statement sounds naïve.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  3. ccb

    A lot of people everywhere believe in 'God'. Romney is trying to interject 'God' into his political rhetoric to get votes that's all. He does not embrace the GOD of the BIBLE! He(and he himself does not claim to be a Christian) is not a Christian for he does not believe that JESUS CHRIST IS GOD THE SON; the second 'person' of the Godhead. Evangelicals have stated that although he is not a Christian he practices or follows Christian principles. This is absurd. But this is the only way they 'justify' supporting him over Pres. Obama who is a Christian. Yes,I know some people, some Christians have a 'problem' with his views on gay rights and abortion,BUT let's look at all the issues not just 1 or 2.. Do you really what Romney who has shown his complete ignorance and lack of judgment, esp of late? Do we really want our sons and daughters in the military with this man as commander-in-chief. He and Palin should be shipmates of a crew of 2, themselves. Both of them each time they open their mouths are loud and noisy,signifying nothing. Come on America, THINK!!!

    September 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  4. budshot

    the only thing Romney is doing, as with all of his statements, is chumming for votes. He needs those white Christian voters, more and more of whom don't trust him and are causing his numbers to fade. What does he do? Speaks to them directly with 'God talk.' I hope most of them see through it.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  5. Richard Hode

    "I will not take God off our coins. And I will not take God out of my heart.” Out of his heart! This tax-cheating bean-counter, what an incredible hypocrite Romney is.! The only thing missing was " I will not get out of my sacred Mormon underwear."

    September 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  6. jude

    Mittens it trying to fire up the right-wing extreme. Panderer, Etch-a-Sketch man, and Human Windsock. Yuck!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  7. Advokat2B

    Lacking policy details and frantic for votes, the Human Weather Vane resorts to... God? Maybe Mr. Romney’s the Third Coming. (The Second already happened, according to Mormon doctrine, when Jesus Christ paid a visit to the Americas, but left behind no evidence.)

    September 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      A hindu can never be of truth absolute GOD, but of his god hindu Jew, filthy secular.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • myway

      There's no evidence of the first coming either.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  8. Rob

    My god is better than your god. No mine is better. No mine is watch it or I'll beat you. Pretty simplistic but religion surpasses any other destructive weapon on earth.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  9. st. john

    romney is a hollow man....no soul...his campaign is calibrated only to find an opening, an advantage, anything to improve his polling numbers. it's too bad. we deserve a better gop and a better gop candidate.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      lie, hindu ignorant Romany has alot of hindu soul, filthy desire but hollow of spirit of truth.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  10. myway

    Talking about God more often does make you more godly. Just another Romney flip flop.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  11. Potrzebie

    Oh yeah? What happened to "Thou shalt not lie."? You think God's just going to look the other way? BTW, abortion is not a religious issue, it isn't mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      murder is, hindu, murderer.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • budshot

      look up 'lying for the Lord'. I saw it constantly when i lived in Utah. It's another 'the ends justify the means' kind of justification for lying, cheating and trying to tell yourself you're still virtuous when you're actually violating everything you claim to uphold.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  12. Tony in phoenix

    Render unto to Caesar ...

    Even Jesus knew that there is both a secular and a spiritual side and you have an obligation to both. Romney and the extreme right want to ignore Caesar.

    The founding fathers would be very much opposed to all of this. Keep YOUR God in YOUR life but keep away from my life.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Truth absolute God is foundation of USA, Take your secularism, denial of truth absolute and shove it hind of your hindu man god, hindu Jew, secular, denire of truth absolute. hindu, ignorant.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • End Religion

      We have no obligation whatsoever to any "spiritual side", god or religion. These are man-made stories. It's time to take your thumb out of your mouth and grow up.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  13. pastmorm

    THAT would be the Mormon God that Romney is talking about. Americans, do your research. Romney doesn't believe that GOD is ALPHA and OMEGA, he believes as ALL mormons do, that God was once a man that was born on another planet and became a god...just like the mormons believe they will someday.
    THAT my friends is the truth. Don't be swayed by angry responses by bitter mormons. LOOK IT UP! FIND out the truth for yourself.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      It doesn't matter what god he's talking about. They're all as false as Thor or Zeus.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  14. JT

    Great. God. That will solve everything.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  15. Morgan

    Romney's such a flip-flop, he should just move to Florida and get it over with. I don't believe his sudden godliness any more than I believed his sudden, "omg, no, socialized medicine is soooo bad, guys." I'm deeply disappointed in the Republican Party for putting this yahoo on the ballot – and I'm not even Republican any more.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  16. scallions1

    That comment Romney made about taking God off coins was a direct reference to the lie being spread by Republican fringers that Obama is going to accomplish that if re-elected. Obama has never even mentioned the subject. Lies, lies, lies. And even when confronted with them, they keep telling them.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      it would be wonderful indeed if any mention of religion or god was taken off all money. however we're moving to Bitcoins anyway, which have no religious affiliation.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @End Religion

      have you seen a "Britcoin"? Assuming you mean British currency you will find the following inscription on the obverse:

      D.G.REG.F.D.year

      This is Latin and I believe it means "Queen by the grace of God, Defender of the Faith"

      September 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @EndReligion,

      apparently I need glasses. You did not say "Britcoins" – my apologies.

      What are "bitcoins"?

      September 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Don't worry – I looked it up.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  17. ToldUso

    Whose God is he talking about?

    September 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  18. Bootyfunk

    well, you can't polish a turd.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • End Religion

      I've found it takes a very gentle hand.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  19. Don

    He will be a perfect president in the Middle East.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  20. BADGUY

    What ELSE is this guy going to come up with. Desperation...thy name is Mitt Romney!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Hey... Obama's just as, if not more, brainwashed with the religious "fervor"...

      September 14, 2012 at 11:23 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.