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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. OOO

    Boy is Ronmey hoping young people don't vote!

    September 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The Republicans have done all they can to try to stop young people voting through the attempted introduction of 'voter fraud' laws.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Mitt Romney

      I'm hoping sane people don't vote either. Or people with critical thinking skills – they would recognize my whole "charity for the rich" and "love my magic undies" platforms.

      My base is the Gumps and Goobers, the people who think they are voting for God when they vote for me. The people who think it's a good idea to help the superrich, and get nothing for it, and not even notice.

      I'm Mitt Romney, and I wish I had a message to approve.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      LOL Mitt 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  2. LD

    romney-ryan. antichrist and false prophet?

    September 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Since it is highly unlikely there are any supernatural beings, I think we have to go with Azzhole I and Azzhole II.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  3. TAK

    This was never one nation under god until 1954 when some McCarthyists decided to start pretending it is.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Pauline

      Have you ever read a history book in you life we came to the new world for religious freedom. Our Consitution is based on the bibles laws and get your head out of the ass of your liberal teachers and learn some real history!

      September 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      @Pauline,
      Time to bring out the multiple choice question again:

      Pauline is:
      1 Over 85
      2 Home Schooled
      3 Lives in the bible belt
      4 All of the above
      5 A troll

      September 14, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Pauline,

      you say: "Our Consitution is based on the bibles laws"

      I say, "bull". Show me one reference to Biblical law in the Const'tution of the United States – and not some crap from David Barton.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  4. Paul Willson

    Is he American ? If father born in Mexico lets see his naturalization papers

    September 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  5. Casey

    I think it is a good thing that Gov. Romney has beliefs, however, President Obama does too and it is shameful for any one to question him. That said, we are not the judge, we are not the appointer, we are not the giver of life or death. So, if you believe, stop listening to the right-wing rhetoric and check with your heart and vote for the poor, needy and those who suffer and all things will be added to you.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Fedora Harvey

      Voters by definition judge and appoint.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Baa Weet

      He is bringing up God,because all he can do now is prey for a chance of winning

      September 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      If he is lucky, and the USA is not, preying will be more effective than praying.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  6. Macsupreme

    What God is he talking about? Not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What God is he talking about? Not the God who was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory in the form of Jesus the Christ! The only way to the Father. John 14. Now Romney don't want none of this. I'm tired of the Bible illiterates, other wise known as the Repugnate Party, using God as the final word in their sometimes racist, bigoted, and segregated rhetoric. Did God say go to Iraq? Did God say lie in the campaign and make up propaganda? I know the Democrazies do it to but they know if they want God in the platform. God is not insecure. He doesn't need to be in a platform. He is the great I am. He is Jehovah jireh. He is the making of King and Lord of Lords. And no politician has a monopoly on God.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      God does not exist. Have a nice day.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Ronald McJesus

      No politician has a monopoloy on Thor, either.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • slim

      dumney couldnt have made himself look any worse this week, everyone that is voting for mitt: Damn you been had!

      September 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  7. End Religion

    If the Mitt don't fit, you must acquit. Don't ask... Somehow it makes sense to me.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  8. Canadian Jim

    Which God is he talking about?
    Krisna? Ganeesh? Zeus? Apollo? Thor?

    It seems Mr. Romney just made a pledge to abrogate the separation of church and state. Which means fundamentalists that he is not talking about the God of Abraham, Mohammed and Jesus, because the Mormon God is a whole other character all together and if you don't think so – it's time to get yourself educated on the Mormon God – whole differnet character. And WHen Mitt dies, he believes he'll become a God himself with his own planet to rule over. No two Gods are alike, praise Manitou.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  9. Paul

    What a vicious pathetic moron is Bishop Willard of the Mormons.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  10. brown

    Is this the best America can do? This guy could have his finger on the button and we are worried about the Iranian nuclear
    program? America is in deep sh iite!

    September 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  11. TommyTT

    The Pledge of Allegiance does NOT say "under God." That was inserted some years ago by politicians. It has no business in a government pledge, not because government should be Godless but because in America government should not make statements that exclude the beliefs of some of its citizens.

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

      Of course it does say "one nation under God", but yes, the "under God" bit was added in 1954 in the middle of the red scare.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  12. doc

    Romney claims he would be a better military president than Obama, yet Obama gave the orders to kill Bin Laden. If Mitt wants to talk military might, then he is just spinning his wheels and getting nowhere. Now he's preaching of how he's for God, yet he got his start at Bain where he made his millions, by turning away from God by accepting blood money made from death squad murdering Mob Bosses. Accepting Blood money is not a sin if you don't know it's blood money. Mitt Romney knew it was blood money, and he knew in his heart that it was against God to take such money. But he did it. Just call him Godly Mitt.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/mitt-romney-death-squads-bain_n_1710133.html

    September 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • End Religion

      Don't be absurd. There's plenty of reason to not like Mitt, but hating him for making money? If he stole it, that'd be one thing, but otherwise its pretty fair to assume almost everyone in the world is trying to make more money. This is why basing morals and one's idea of "good and evil" on an imaginary friend like god is ludicrous and contradictory.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  13. KATHY/Minnesota

    ROMNEY'S PLATFORM..........OR....SRING BOARD, BUNGEE, HOP-SCOTCH,JUMPING BEANS,ETCH-A SKETCH,KICK BALL,or just another LIE?

    September 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  14. tex2step

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  15. Happy Jack

    One of Bil Mahar's comment regarding Liberty University:

    Maher noted that Liberty teaches "creation science," and the idea that earth was created 5,000 years ago. "This is a school you flunk out of when you get the answers right," he joked.

    Much as conservatives believe gay marriage cheapens their own vows, "I think a diploma from Liberty cheapens my diploma from a real school," he continued. "I worked really hard for four years and sold a lot of drugs to get that thing."

    Liberty's diploma may look real, Maher said, but "when you confuse a church with a school, Maher went on, "it mixes up the things you believe — religion — with the things we know — education. Then you start thinking that creationism is science, and gay aversion is psychology, and praying away hurricanes is meteorology."

    September 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • End Religion

      http://youtu.be/Ep8MYANIv1Y

      September 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You can find the list of 'creationism' universities here:

      http://nwcreation.net/colleges.html

      Jerry Fallwell, Chancellor of a University that includes the (Jesse) Helms School of Government and is named "Liberty", How ironic is that?

      September 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  16. TheTraveler

    So now it's God? Mitt, you're running out of ideas, or Karl Rove is I should say ...

    Vote Democratic because "Mitt don't fit".

    September 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • KATHY/Minnesota

      I like...mitt don't fit....WE NEED SIGNS, BUTTONS ETC....HELLO ANYONE? "MITT DON'T FIT"

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

      Mitt don't fit, he's not legit.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  17. jbird68

    I think Mittens needs to show us his birth certificate. Something about his dad being born at a Mexican mission? Dunno...all very confusing.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  18. steve

    Has to make the ultra right happy with the God talk.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  19. annieL

    Does he mean Muslims can kneel, chant, and pray to Allah in the courthouse square three times a day? I'd like to see how a lot of small-town Christians reacted to that. But that's Romney's platform and his promise. God in the public square.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • fritz

      ahh, don't think it's 3 a day. More like 5 or 6 times a day. Maybe more if they're feeling allah itchin' their buts.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  20. Bob, NY

    If the men and women that fought to create our country read this blog...they'd roll over in their graves so fast that we would have a new source of energy. Our new found bitterness will make Bin Laden proud!

    September 14, 2012 at 11:03 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.