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. Karl

    Mitt Romney would probably try and convert what little there is left of "other faiths" in the U.S. and convert them if he were elected. The whole "God" debate should be put to rest, If only christians realized that basically everything in their bible is a bunch of rehashed stories and myths from earlier ancient civilizations. Even the story of Christ is completely plagiarized from other "saviors" in ancient times.

    The whole thing is actually all pagan. Christianity stole everything from pagans: holidays, worships, practices. etc. To sum it all up: The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun – Thomas Paine

    Perhaps if christians took some time out and researched unbiased sources of religious history, they wouldn't be as uneducated, ignorant, and intolerant as they are. Perhaps they would have something else to say besides spewing bible verses out there mouths 24/7 as well

    September 15, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • GO_GOP

      You are wrong. We need deeply religious people like Romney to take us out of this mess. No nation has been successful while trying to be atheist. secular. In GOD we trust

      September 15, 2012 at 2:05 am |
    • End Religion

      Hey GOP, take a look at evidence further down the page that god is gay.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:26 am |
    • 2357

      I don't believe Romney gives a hoot about religion, except that it is a proven path to political power. He pretends to be a prophet because it sounds just like profit. Same goes for Obama. No spiritual person would pursue this dirty business with such passion and pretense.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:58 am |
  2. rexryanschoolofpodiatry

    Pretty funny how Romney has so much reverence for God yet is fully against marijuana, which was created by God according to his ideology.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • Hindu

      What is your point? There are a lot of poisons also part of God's nature. So we should take them?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:17 am |
  3. GO_GOP

    We need deeply religious people like Romnay to take this nation forward. No atheist, liberal nation has ever been successful in history

    September 15, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      How many liberal atheist countries have there ever been? I think the answer is zero, but perhaps one or more of the Scandanavian countries might be officially atheist. They seem pretty successful. How many successful theocracies have there been?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • End Religion

      Well, that's it then. Proof that no atheist liberal nation will be successful, since one never has been. Super logic! I think if you flip that around a bit, you'll agree that no religious nation has ever been successful. They're either gone or on their way out.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • 2357

      I've met deeply devoted Christians, and Romney doesn't seem like one of them. He seems rather like the typical nominal churchgoer, whose true devotion in his heart of hearts belongs to his retirement net worth and heritable estate.
      Same goes for Obama. Different class, same goals. One wants to keep what he's got, the other wants to get what he hasn't. Most of us are a little bit of both. Everything else is very likely sentimental fluff.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:50 am |
  4. ScottCA

    Another good one.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  5. Martin

    According to the Christian Encyclopedia:

    There ar e more than 38,000 versions of Christianity in this world. Most of which believes that they are the only true Christian.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  6. ScottCA

    CNN will appreciate one of their interviews being posted.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  7. Frank

    God wants you to reveal your tax returns, Mitt.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  8. Geoff

    OK. So Mitt Romney is continuing to claim that he's not taking God out of American life. I didn't know he how the power to remove God from our lives. In any event, let's remember that he probably likes to peek when penguins are mating.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  9. ScottCA

    Not bad either

    September 15, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  10. katabay1106

    Mitt Romney was speaking before christian fundamentalist about God. Is he talking about the Mormon God or the Christian God?

    September 15, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • fsmgroupie

      the god from planet kolab- you know-the one wearing the magical underwear!!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • End Religion

      What does it matter? One crazy person speaking to other crazy people in their secret crazy language. They simply speak different dialects.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  11. reldra

    At one time I thought our president might have a worthy adversary. I was completely mistaken and happy that his re election will be so easy.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Pastapharian

      Let's hope. It still seems that nearly half the country is either sleeping or just plain uninformed. I can't use the other words I'm thinking or the mods will punish me again. They are my gods.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  12. ScottCA

    This one is quite good.

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

      Great clip. THanks!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • End Religion

      I hadn't seen this irrefutable evidence god was gay. Thanks!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  13. ScottCA

    Quite funny.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      Made me chuckle... thanks Scott.


      September 15, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • Jeff

      This was brilliant

      September 15, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  14. David Riker


    September 15, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  15. slim

    cant believe how many idiots would believe in a candidate whose religion is taking him to a galaxy far far away, damn you been had

    September 15, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  16. David Riker

    SH**T ON GOD!

    September 15, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Athy

      It's "shit", dummy. And turn off your fucking caps lock.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  17. ScottCA


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

      I love Maher!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Pastapharian

      I love Maher, and also Dawkins. Awesome clip.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  18. rabbitone

    in other words he ratchets up useless brain dead talk that does nothing for anyone

    September 15, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  19. therealpeace2all

    Romney's "ratcheting up of the God rhetoric" is not surprising at all, IMHO.

    For him to have even a chance, he is going to have to capture a number of swing states, as some of the polling I saw, as of yesterday, shows President Obama opening up a slightly wider lead.

    For Romney to win, he's going to have to pull out all the stops... which means hitting a lot of the issues that whip up the GOP/Social Conservatives... "God, God, God"... "No Abortion " "Creationism as Science" in Public Schools, etc... 😯

    Unless things change pretty dramatically between now and November, it is starting to look more and more like President Obama, will be re-elected.


    September 15, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  20. nibiro

    "The burden against Damascus.
    “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
    And it will be a ruinous heap."

    September 15, 2012 at 1:03 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.