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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. Kris

    He'll be knocking on trailer park doors soon....trying to be "one of the little people".

    September 15, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  2. vahellbilly

    Leave beliefs out of the campaign and stick to FACTS Mr. Romney... This is why I vote Independent... Dems are too liberal and too afraid to upset anyone even if the argument is right and the GOP wants God's name everywhere and for us to follow suit.

    We need a real three-party system...

    September 15, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  3. CraigRB

    God knows when someone is speaking from the heart which Romney is not doing. He's only using God's name to score a few votes. Shameful!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  4. gggg

    Bring on the invisible pink unicorn with the rainbow horn. They have gone off the deep end. May his noodlyness push down on you ...

    September 15, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  5. DRE

    I really wonder exactly what a lot of these ultra right wing Christians really think when they look at Romney. It wasn't too long ago that they firmly believe Mormons were just a cult, but their dislike (hatred) for Obama simply because the color of his skin simply shows they will compromise their beliefs to see him out of office.

    What a dilemma they must face as we move toward the election day.

    Think about it...

    September 15, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Evangelical Christian

      I won't betray my beliefs and vote for a satanical cult leader! And..! I do Not hate Mr. Obama!
      I think Mr. Obama is a good and decent Christian who wants to try and help the less fortunate – just like Jesus would! I don't understand how my fellow Evangelicals can say and do what they are! Mr. Romney and the Republican party are all power-mad and insanely greedy sinners! They talk a lot of talk but at the end of the day it's all just a smoke screen and they all walk away leaving the weak and the poor to suffer needlessly! I will vote for Obama! God Bless Him! And God Bless America!!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  6. Joshua Ludd

    God, eh? Which god? Zeus? Zaroaster? Ra? Xenu?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I'm guessing not Xenu. You left off Ellohim.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ooops – Elohim

      September 15, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Cq

      Zoroaster was a prophet of sorts. Ahura Mazda was the good god.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Evangelical Christian

      Mr. Romney believes Joseph Smith is God now, and, that after he dies he too will become a god like God..!
      This man is Not a Christian! He is a charlatan and he is doing Satan's work!

      My fellow Christians do Not be fooled! Read your Bibles! This man is a terrible person and we don Not want him to be President!

      God Bless Mr. Obama! And God Bless America!!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  7. ghost

    Charlie would say Romney has the good lord all up inside of him

    September 15, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  8. SPQR

    God bless The United States of America.

    President Obama 2012 !!!

    "We the People..."

    September 15, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Evangelical Christian!!

      Yes!! God Bless Mr. Obama! And God Bless America!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  9. brianyg

    Best thing to do with crazies it to give them the microphone and a topic.... they'll dig their own graves with their tongues

    September 15, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  10. Ellie

    Well.....can he stoop any lower as a politician to bring God into it as a reason to get a jump in the polls? This guy couldn't be a bigger fake. God help us if greater America believes the crap he spews.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Evangelical Christian!!

      I do Not believe a word he says! Mormons are Not Christians, they are a Satanical Cult!
      There is No way I will Ever vote for a Mormon President! And, I am asking all of my Christian friends to vote against this man who thinks he will be God!!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  11. Vicar Jonathan

    Republicans embody the truest decipher of Darwinism...that we are merely mammals: exploit advantage and weakness at all costs in order to survive (even if notions of survival become perverted toward stockpiles of wealth than cannot ever be consumed by successive generations). Democrats on the other hand believe that humans are not merely mammals but have the capacity to consciously and compassionately empathize (that which Jesus and Christianity is all about) which pits us humans apart from mere survival instincts because -as Jesus said- love is the currency of mankind (and not in a couched, saccharine hippy kind of way). How on earth Democrats allowed Republicans to hijack Christianity is an abomination.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  12. brianyg

    I don't care what religion he ascribes to... something is wrong with the man on a very fundamental level... meaning character. I look forward to the debates. I think a lot of people will agree with me afterwards.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Evangelical Christian!!

      I know exactly what is wrong with this man! He believes he will become a god just like God!!
      He is a selfish and greedy cult leader who wants to make his cult become a "mainstream" religion so that it can lead as many people away from Christ and into eternal damnation! He is a tool of Satan.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  13. Ann Romknee

    looks like Mitt is getting desperate, doing the God talk, you won't have trouble in the middle east if you elect me, etc, What a freakshow.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Evangelical Christian!!

      He is doing Satan's talk.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  14. chiniquy

    When a person who belongs to a cult start talking about G-D, then that person should be asked which god are they talking about. The majority of cults have very strange ideas about who the Creator is. For instance the Mormon god was prejudiced against people of color until the 1970s. That kind of god is not the Creator of the Heavens and Earth.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Evangelical Christian!!

      I agree! This man is a liar and a charlatan, just like Joseph Smith the con artist and murderer was!
      Mormonism is Not Christian, it is Satanism.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  15. old blue

    Heed Sinclair Lewis' warning from many years ago; i.e., "when Fascism arrives in America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross". Use your heads everyone!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • us_1776

      Bingo !!

      We have a winner.

      .

      September 15, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Mon Dieu! made this post on p12:

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

      True words indeed.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This is precisely what Franco, Mussolini and Hitler did.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Rufus

      Perhaps the man who wraps himself in the convenience of mormon cloths may expire in the the same exploited-minority picked cotton-wrapped syphilitic misery of his former mormon missionary rapists - just very much slower and more excruciatingly

      September 15, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  16. us_1776

    Yep, when all else fails Willard just invoke the Sky Fairy.

    Pathetic.

    .

    September 15, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  17. slim

    separation of church and state, its why some of us are here, mormons and devout christians dont do to well at the bargaining table anyway. Planet kolob, damn you been had!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  18. ScottCA

    Mormons believe blacks were cursed by god.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Louis

      They use to, but apparently not any more.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • ScottCA

      Now they just don't say it openly, but they believe it, and they believe black people will be their slaves in heaven.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  19. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTi8dq4KAeE&w=640&h=360]
    Mormons are insane

    September 15, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  20. fekt

    Yo Mitt, you forgot to mention all non mormons are damned to purgatory at best. Mormonism is the only one true religion and all other forms of christianity are false and invalid. Please enlighten us about your faith and beliefs.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:14 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.