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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but you assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • TROLL ALERT

      Please don't feed him.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • david esmay

      Nothing fails like prayer. Creationism is a lie and should not be taught to children.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  2. myviewis

    Democrats did take God out of the Democratic platform. 3 times Democrats voted to reinstate God and most of us heard the majority say No to reinstating God but it was reinstated against the wishes of the majority. So why did the majority not get their vote acknowledged to remove God? Could it be because it looked bad to take God out??? Democrats are hypocrites.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's pretty clear how the delegates felt about changing the platform.

      The DNC caving in to Fox News was an ugly and embarrassing spectacle – but the 'no God in the platform issue' is off the table.

      It was pure political expediency. Call it hypocritical if you like. No different to the abortion plank in the Rebublican platform versus the candidate's professed position on the issue.

      The country has lots bigger problems than rewording phrases like "God-given potential".

      September 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Tom

      It's called pandering. Something Romney has done more of than any other candidate for President.

      He was for a woman's right to choose, now he is "pro-life"
      He was the US originator of healthcare for all, now he is against it. But WAIT... he was saying his first day he would repeal healthcare, but now he says he'll keep parts of it.
      He supported civil unions, now he is against it.
      He supported limited gun laws, now he doesn't.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • John Master

      Tom is delusional. Obama has mastered the art of pandering to special interests like no other. Against gay marriage until the election cycle, same fo illegal immigrants give rights by executive order, pandering to both these groups. Pandering to the environmental wackos with the keystone pipeline, also pander to the unions. He kissess any ass he sees as a potential vote. He bows before foreign kings. He is the pandered in chief.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Foiled Again Batman

      Democrats didnt need to put "God" in thier platform, because all are welcome.
      We dont discriminate.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  3. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    He is not real but hindu, fake, user and abuser of word God, truth absolute, just like mid night girl on street hassling customers. e mEnd jistifes the means, way of hindu Jew's, filthy self centered. To know causes of mayhem among humanity, handy work of hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, denier of truth absolute and thir hinduism, fabrication, hindu Mithra ism pagan savior ism, labeled as Christianity, please visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • mique

      I hope you don't get out much.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      I dont care what side you are on,
      you need to STFU.
      Babbling idiot.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  4. Nuance

    Wow..he pledges to keep "GOD" on U.S. coins, yet he was unable to grant Ann's parents access into the cult tabernacle where they "pledged" their vows and commitment to one another......

    Does Willard think we forgot or don't know that he believes he will become a "god" himself in the afterlife. Nowhere in the traditional Bible does it state anything like this....blasphemy.

    This guy's religion goes against everything the Bible stands for. I am not a very particularly religious man (I do believe in GOD), however, I am a logical one. I am simply amazed that this man is actually bringing religion up, and so far, what I see is a lot of these "fire and brimstone" types blindly following this guy lol.

    I would think that these types of people would be the first to rebuke this guy, but whatever...nothing but hypocrisy. Same folks that are quick to label Pres. Obama a muslim.

    As the Bible states: "Beware the false prophet"....this means you Willard.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • doug

      than so does Harry Reid..he too is Mormon

      September 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Greg

      Interesting comments. If any politician chooses to bring "God" into the public/political discourse, then it is appropriate and essential to ask them to clarify what they believe....In the case of Romney, if he is indeed a devout Mormon, and subscribes to the teaching of his church, then he is not referring to a Jewish, Christian or Muslim god. Likewise, during the President's and Michele O'Bama's wonderful speeches at the convention, as they spoke about their background, and what formed both of them and their guiding ethos today, I don't recall any substantive reference to God, or Christian values. Hard to believe that people will conclude that Christian beliefs and values are particularly important to either candidate or political party. Apparently, rhetoric is all that is required to get Christian votes. Where is the prophetic voice of the Christian Church?

      Truly sad...

      September 15, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Aaron

      Your a doche and a hater of religion. Who cares what he believes in.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  5. nemesis

    Mitt has it going on for Snookie? Mitt, make sure you get your shots first. She's a BAD investment.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  6. nemesis

    With all this god stuff, will he be able to relate to folks who aren't Mormons or Evangelicals?

    September 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      No. But if he can get enough Mormon, Evangelical Protestant votes plus Catholic swing votes to move the electoral college his way – why should he have to? There's good reason to shore up the fundie base in the south. (And Liberty University in Virginia is still about as 'south' as you can get.) I suspect a lot of the fundies still aren't really comfortable about voting Mormon.

      At the end of the day, we're really talking about a handful of counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania this November.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  7. Michael

    I just cannot believe these so called conservatives, evangelical, rightwing, radical liars, pretenders, deceivers, I think If Jesus Christ could be tempted to believe in abortion, that is to abort everyone these hypocrites, they would have never been born to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, misrepresent, mislead anyone in this world! Just think, what Mormons believe (check their doctrinal stance not their media dissertation), is that Jesus Christ brother is Satan! IT’S REMARKABLE FOR A SOCALLED CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE TO SUPPORT A PERSON WITH THIS VIEW! THAT MEANS THE ANTICHRIST WILL BE A REPUGLICAN CONSERVATIVE! All we have to do is look at Sam Bacile, Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla, Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. whose behind the film which is responsible for deaths of Americans!

    September 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Christy9

      I would like everyone who plans on voting for a Mormon, read about that faith before they do. You will be very surprised how they live, work, and believe. I was when I had an hour long conversation with a former Morman, born in Utah. I could NEVER vote for a practicing Mormon for president!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  8. cryofpaine

    I could not possibly care any less about a candidate's faith. I care about whether they have a plan to fix the economy. I care about whether they can protect the country. I care about how their decisions are going to impact my ability to put food on my table and a roof over my head. I care about how they feel about defining and protecting the rights of their citizens. I care about how well my niece and nephews are being educated. I do not care how many times they can cram "God" into their meaningless speeches. Unless they're sacrificing small children to Satan or something, I don't care.

    On the other hand, I do find the fact that Romney likes Snooki to be very disturbing.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • mique

      Please run for president.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  9. Tom

    For a campaign that began laser-focused on the economy, Romney and his handlers sure have become scatter-shot. Is this Romney trying to change the subject while team of surgeons work to extract his foot from his mouth over the Libya gaffe? Or has Romney embraced a message-of-the-day strategy - throw out a new idea every day and hope something will stick and generate some momentum? This sure doesn't feel like a campaign in control of its message right now. It feels like too many people are trying to drive the campaign bus and they keep going in circles (right handed circles of course).

    September 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      He is not real but hindu, fake, user and abuser of God, truth absolute, just like mid night girl on street hassling customers. e mEnd jistifes the means, way of hindu Jew's, filthy self centered. To know causes of mayhem among humanity, handy work of hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, denier of truth absolute and thir hinduism, fabrication, hindu Mithra ism pagan savior ism, labeled as Christianity, please visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Isn't it time for Romney to stop pandering to the evangelical social conservatives? Has he given up on flip flopping back to the middle?

    September 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I suspect that polls are showing that the evanagelical crowd is not quite as ready to vote "Mormon" as the RNC wants (and needs) them to be.

      Therefore, "talk about God" as the strategy de jour.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Aaron

      You can make the same argument for Obama, pandering to woman, Muslims, Hollywood.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Sorry, Romney got lost.
      Cant find the middle.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  11. DocHollywood

    Mr. Mitt (Pander) Romney will say or do anything to grab a vote. I'll guarentee that if this nation was 50 percent athiest, he'd say God was a heathen. This man stands for nothing. Nothing at all.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  12. indyreader

    Losing on the issues, losing because of the lies, losing because of the blatant lack of realistic ideas and details on how to make things better? Losing on substance? Throw some God around – that'll whip yer base into a frenzy real fast. It's super-effective!

    September 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and let's them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago**; and that other things, like god, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Sometimes, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). Sometimes, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Religions are just big old evil clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division along the way (disguised as love).

    So instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

    ** (yes, charlatan spam started long before the Bible; what would make your think it hadn't?)

    mama kindless

    September 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • *

      mama,

      Nice post. I see that you use it often; so you might want to spiff up a couple of things:
      –and let's them be all that they can be = "let's" should be "lets"
      –what would make your think it hadn't = "your" should be "you"

      September 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Thank you "*" – I will make those corrections!

      September 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • biff

      No, the "let's" should remain as it is. The apostrophe stands for a letter that is omitted, in this case, a letter "u". The word "let's " is called a contraction, short for "let us". Kind of like "can't" being a contraction for "cannot". Eight years of Catholic grammar school.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:38 am |
    • canadiann

      @biff Your explanation re use of contractions is correct but not appropriate in this case. The contraction "let's" means "let us" and the test for proper use of a contraction is whether you can switch out and use either one in the sentence. Does this sound right to you: "and let us them be all that they can be"? In this case the use of "lets" is correct. It is used as a verb to mean "allows".

      September 15, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  14. Lionel

    Vote for Bishop Romney and take America back to the 18th century.
    Vote to give millionaires and billionaires more tax cuts.

    Mormonism is a cult. They baptize the dead and other weird things.

    Robme will say and do anything to get elected. I wonder if God would approve of him cheating on his taxes.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  15. California Gary

    I don't know why, but I get the sense that Mitt is using God for political gain........but that couldn't be true.......could it? If he really believes in God, he must know that God would not approve of such a thing. So the fact that he would use God for political advantage, means that in reality he doesn't believe in God at all. Kind of a Catch 22 thing.......shoot, next thing you know he'll be trying to use the death of Americans serving in dangerous parts of the world for political purposes. No......not even Mitt would stoop that low........would he?

    September 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • R

      If this man was so religious he should have been watching our fallen diplomatic corp being brought to Andrews Air Force Base this afternoonn rather than name-calling the President of the United States at this time. Is that the best this so called patriotic GOP nominee could do is campaign at this time at a university? I am sick of his campaign..i

      September 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • California Gary

      Right on R............the only reason I can figure he wasn't there is that even he has a little sliver of shame........how could he show up for that after using the deaths of these brave souls in a political attack?

      September 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  16. I Believe that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR_EILTrhmo&w=420&h=315]

    September 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  17. Honey Badger Dont Care

    This slimeball is just trying to make people think that he is a xtian and not an alien worshiping cultist.

    September 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • kirby

      Those christian are stupid for believing him or his ideology..!! Wow!

      September 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      So what, every hindu pagan Christian worship's a hindu fabricated deity named Jesus, no one existed by this name in history.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  18. Jesus

    Moron

    September 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Moran ,self centered = Jew, self centered= pig, self centered, so on and so forth.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  19. SoFunny

    “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.”

    Yeah, he's showing contrast allright, just look at the color of his skin and that of the rest of the repugs! Light bright and always white! No contrast within the Repug convention.!

    September 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Hey, they have a token. Just look at Rice.

      September 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  20. Primewonk

    I wonder what the need is for theses folks to try and "out Jesus" each other?

    Gosh, you'd think that none of them have read Article VI, Section 3, of the constîtution?

    September 14, 2012 at 4:11 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.