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. AmesIA

    The usual pandering to the right and diving back to the center for the general election must have confused Mitt and he is trying to outflank the wingnets to the their right.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  2. cynthia

    Three big problems, mitt. One, you're in some conflict with your own faith, unless by God, you mean the current Prophet of the Latter Day Saints. Two, people are going to see through your insulting pandering. Three, we have a long history that started before we ever became a country, that is the separation of church and state, as well as the idea we don't send a message that if you don't get to tell the rest of the country how to believe, what faith they must follow if they want to be 'real' Americans. I bet he doesn't even know that the addition of God into our Pledge and on our money was added in the 1950's...that's right the NINETEEN fifties, during the McCarthy Red Scare debacle. I'm getting more than a little tired of being told outright and by mix of words that if I don't believe as the Christian Right tells me to believe, I am an unpatriotic and unwanted American.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Pastapharian

      You godless heathen! Burn in their hell!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  3. nibiro

    q46)After great trouble for humanity,
    a greater one is prepared
    The Great Mover renews the ages:
    Rain, blood, milk, famine, steel and plague,
    Is the heavens fire seen, a long spark running.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  4. Tax Damned Churches NOW

    So this means he will order all female federal employees to wear the holy long underwear (winter and summer) he, as a Mormon Bishop, orders the women in his family to wear?
    And which of the many mormon gods is he talking about? The ones on THIS planet or the other universes their holy book speaks of?
    We thought the NYC Mayor was nuts banning Big Gulps. Bishop Romney wants to bring back Prohibition and not just ban alcohol but also coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc etc Every corrupt, tax-dodgng minister and televangelista is laughing his rocks off at the priospect of unrestrained skullduggery for the religious if Romney gets in.
    Are Americans really THAT stupid? Lincoln said you can fool some of the People some of the time. Hopefully not 51% this November.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • scott

      Wow you are an elite conclusion jumper. Noone is ordered to wear garments, or not drink alcohol etc – thats each persons own decision. You are pretty looney if you think he would ever force his beliefs on others. By the way, I don't have any problem with taxing churches. Bring it to the floor of the senate.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  5. nibiro

    Naval battle night will be overcome,
    Fire in the ships to the West ruin:
    New trick, the great ship colored,
    Anger to the vanquished, and victory in a drizzle.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  6. Mitt the Prophet

    I predict the world will end in 2012!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      It probably will – for Republicans and right wing believers.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  7. Chaing

    What happened to the division of church and state? I say it's time to tax churches. Huge wind fall for the government.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Beth


      September 15, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      If religions were taxed, with any luck they will behave like big business and move offshore, taking their cults and taxes with them!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  8. shinden58

    Romney at Liberty University pandering to the righ wing. Someone need to clue them in that their imaginary friend in the sky is just that.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  9. Hahaha

    God is greater than any platform. By bringing God into a platform is an insult to the greatness of God, i.e. like a demotion.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • yang

      you know, that's kind of how i expect true followers of Christ and lovers of God to respond to this kind of thing. yet i hear so few people saying that. my conclusion is that most "religious" people are not true followers of Christ or true lovers of God. it seems that most "religious" folks are religious merely to separate themselves from others, to give themselves a pat on the back for being so "good," and to have a way to "sanctified" and reproachable way to present their prejudices.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  10. Zoomie

    Mitt is correct, only The Book of Mormon teaches the path of the righteous. Without knowing The Book of Mormon you will burn in hell.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • vinny

      You are totally wrong and decived!!! There is only one way to avoid hell that is through Jesus Christ. One must repent fo their sins and accept intro their heart.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Pastapharian

      We will all avoid hell because it does not exist. Pretty smile, eh?

      September 15, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • scott

      First you should know what you are talking about before you say it.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • Pastapharian

      I would give my theory much better odds than any of yours!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • scott

      Tell me all about it after you die.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Pastapharian

      Scott, seriously, that's just silly.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      You would think that a dead believer would be more likely to inform us of what happens after they died, but that has never happened...

      September 15, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Pastapharian

      I keep waiting. I'd be instantly converted. I can't say too much. None of my posts are making it! Lol

      September 15, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  11. dina

    Desperate means in desperate times. Romney is showing how scared he is that he might loose . Whose god is he gong to put in , his or the god of the Jews or the Islamic god or the Hindu god.That would be interesting. This man cannot be president.He is too unstble to run this country in these times.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • scott

      Who God is is up to each individual, as you have stated. It doesn't matter. Thats stable, not unstable. What does matter is that there is belief that something else above us imperfect persons can provide a basis for values that help people live their lives without 50,000 laws telling them what to do and not do.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Pastapharian

      Scott, please kep your imaginary sky monster out of my government. That is what this country was founded on.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  12. High Way

    I sense a desperation from Mitt. He will sink further in the polls.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  13. Kajal

    Desperate act of a desperate man!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Muhammad the Barbarian

      Religion is Destroying this World!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • ScottCA

      Religion is poison it ruins everything.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • scott

      People's misuse of religion is poison to the world, just like dictatorship, pride and power. If people actually understood their God the world would be a peaceful place. The problem isn't religion its people.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  14. Mike Smith

    These nuts are about as retarded as those over in the Middle east, they maybe half-brothers, for sure half-witt.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • cas

      Haha 🙂

      September 15, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Athy

      Witt? How about "wit" ?

      September 15, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      You talking about Mitt The Half Wit Twit Who Doesn't Fit?

      September 15, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  15. upwardquest

    President Obama helped me keep my home. He is doing an excellent job. I am voting for Obama!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  16. DRE

    That's very funny. Romney says the GOP has God in their party's platform. I think he is mistaking GREED for their God.

    The GOP is very similar to the Sadducees. Think about it...

    September 15, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  17. 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

    Now that it's pretty much assured that Obama is going to get re-elected which should mean that Hillary is well positioned for 2016-2024, who is going to become the next great white GOP hope?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Pastapharian

      Rick perry? The blowhard from jersey? more entertainment for us in 4 years. The Dems have a very deep field in addition to hilary if she decides not to run.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  18. Chutzpah

    And what about God's wife?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      God has a wife?!? I thought he was omniscient!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  19. HS

    Will he also promote the current Prophet, who is the head of the Mormon church? You do know that the Mormons believe that there is a living Prophet who is part of a line of Prophets that didn't end with Jesus, but has continued to Joseph Smith and continuously to the present day, don't you?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Dane

      Close, we believe that the authority of god was lost from the earth around the time of Jesus Christ when his apostles were martyred. While we believe that through Joseph Smith the authority of God was restored to the earth. This being said, we respect the religions/beliefs of others. It saddens me to see that differences between religions are such a point of discord. I'm sure that we have much in common with you and with many other faiths. Hopefully you will see that our spiritual leaders are striving to do the very same thing that your spiritual leaders strive to do. Bring everyone closer to God.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • shinden58

      I think we should ask Romney if he believes in the Tooth Fairy. Isn't it great to have imaginary friends in the sky.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Tax Damned Churches NOW

      We have NOTHING in common you unAmerican tax-dodging megalomaniac. I operate ethically in reality. Your mormon heritage is self-serving anti-government greed and lust and scifi holy books that make Scientology seem reasonable

      September 15, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Pastapharian

      All religion is anti-intelligence. If you would just stop to ask the obvious questions, you'd see that you wouldn't get struck by lightening, and that life would make a lot more sense. Education is your friend.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • scott

      Intelligence is great when used with wisdom. Without wisdom its just pompous rhetoric.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • scott

      The glory of God is intelligence. We should all be trying to acquire it.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Pastapharian

      There is NO wisdom involved with believing in something blindly without the slightest shred of a reason to believe short of the fact that it is the way you were indoctrinated and brainwashed as a child. None. It is all made up. Period.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Man has acquired enormous intelligence that is growing each day. Unfortunately, many still cling to their silly childish unsupported myths – that behaviour is delusional, not wise.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • scott

      I was never brain washed as a child, studied to be an engineer, and in the years of my "intelligence" learned that there is something else called faith – which is believing in something that you can't prove – so it will always be at odds with "intelligence". I agree you shouldn't believe in something blindly, because if you do, like with anything you will lack understanding.
      In my faith you must challenge your belief and find your own answer. So it sounds like you blindly believe there is no creator. But to answer the question requires faith and a spiritual answer – not an answer that comes from books.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  20. John


    September 15, 2012 at 12:40 am |
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