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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. GO_GOP

    Question: Why are atheists always angry and complaining? Answer: They have no social life, no prayer and no one to turn to when in trouble.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • What?

      Ignorance is bliss.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • mikem

      Hey GO GOP, I'm still waiting for you to answer my question. Who created your God?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • mikem

      Sorry to disappoint you on this one, GO GOP, but atheists don't need religion to have a social life and to have people to turn to. In fact, we have more of a social life and more people to turn to than religious people like you because you can only turn to other people who hold your faith. I can turn to anyone in America, including you. By the way, I'm slow to anger and I never complain. But you, my friend, have been complaining a whole bunch on this blog. Maybe you and your buddies should rethink this whole Christian things since it's not getting you anywhere.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:50 am |
  2. GO_GOP

    IN GOD WE TRUST. NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE THAT. GET THAT INTO YOUR SILLY HEADS YOU ATHEISTS. HE DIED FOR OUR SINS. HAVE SOME SENSE AND TURN TO HIM BEFORE JUDGEMENT DAY. WE ARE A NATION FOUNDED ON WHITE CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES AND WILL REMAIN SO.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • Chip

      Wrong.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • Geedub

      Case in point.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • What?

      No need for reason when you have religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • mikem

      Hey GO GOP, the bible says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Even assuming that's true, it still does not say who created your God. Do you realize that no matter what you say or think and no matter what anybody else says or thnks, you will never know who created your God. This means that even if evrything in the bibile is true, it can all be overruled by the person who created God.

      In lught of this, I personally would look for a more stable type of faith if I were you.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • End Religion

      Shouting not only doesn't prove it so, it reveals you're at the end of your tolerance for the conversation. Your tiny mind has been saturated and its only defense is to have you stick fingers in your ears and scream. YOU are why religion is dying. And I thank you.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • Athy

      Gee, GO_GOP, you seem to be a little unstable. Calm down, take a deep breath, turn off your fucking caps lock and try to make sense. Maybe you should grovel on your knees and talk to your imaginary buddy in the sky for a while. Maybe he can help you.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  3. ScottCA

    Worth a watch the religious might learn something.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXVoF5EFsHQ&w=640&h=360]

    Evid3nc3 You Rock Man!

    September 15, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Hindu

      Blame "state enforced atheism" of soviet union LOL ... lets not head in that direction ourselves ...

      September 15, 2012 at 2:45 am |
  4. mikem

    We are a country under law.

    We have never been a country under God. One of the reasons for the founding of this country was to have a country ruled by law, not by religion. We were founded as a country under law and we will always be a country under law, not God.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • GO_GOP

      you are wrong we are a whit christian nation under GOD period. If you do not agree please leave. And yes I will pay for your and your gay partner's tickets.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • mikem

      Dear GO GOP, why would you want to exclude a fellow American like me who is in lock step with the founding fathers' vision for this country. I would not ask you to leave this country just because your're views are different from mine.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • End Religion

      GOP is simply spreading the words of love and tolerance his god gave him through the bible.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:36 am |
  5. What?

    At this point it should be fairly obvious that if there is a god they have much more important things to do than pay attention to one part of a planet in the vastness of space. To be blunt, I'm fairly certain anything that could create life, earth and the infinite universe has bigger things on their mind than what happens here. Its up to the people to decide how the country should proceed and it worries me that Romney seems unable or unwilling to talk about any plans and is hoping Ryan will do it for him.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  6. Hindu

    @NanH -

    the real christians know how to reproduce - the rest of you know how to either, a) abort, or b) do it for recreation with contraceptives, or c) do it with the same gender ...

    September 15, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • Pastapharian

      Dumbest post of the night. Well done.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Hindu

      @Pastapharian -

      your post did not contain anything rational but pointless name-calling which is perfect way to concede a debate.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Chip

      What debate?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • Hindu

      That @pastapharian conceded even before he even began it ....

      September 15, 2012 at 3:15 am |
  7. GO_GOP

    How can you people be so ungrateful to actually turn away from the person who died for OUR sins?? I really believe atheists are the worst of the worst and are ruled by Satan. This makes me want to weep in shame. We are a christian white nation. For heaven's sake realize that and embrace Jesus Christ before it is too late.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Pastapharian

      Don't be stupid. First, nobody died for my sins – whatever that even means. Who cares if some guy died? What does that have to do with absolving you of your wrongdoings? Second, this is not a Christian or white nation, you racist bigot. This is a nation born of religious freedom – freedom of, and freedom FROm religion – including yours. Keep your magic sky fairies to yourself. It's all science fiction.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • End Religion

      It would be humorous if it weren't so sickening that GOP doesn't see he's very nearly the worst kind of human being one can possibly be on this planet.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:39 am |
  8. JUGGERNAUT

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH8O5NIyit4&w=640&h=360]

    September 15, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • JUGGERNAUT

      PROOF THAT ROMNEY HAS NO PLANS.

      PROOF THAT ROMENY DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING.

      PROOF THAT ROMNEY IS NOT READY TO BE PRESIDENT

      PROOF THAT THESE PEOPLE HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  9. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAeeZEmUZ40&w=640&h=360]

    September 15, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Hindu

      What about private education? I think all education should be private ...

      September 15, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • ScottCA

      Any religious indoctrination of children should be considered abuse of minors.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • Hindu

      @ScottCA -

      how tolerant of you of right of private citizens to practice their faith in private ... exposed! militant atheist - "i am atheist and everyone should be one".

      September 15, 2012 at 3:17 am |
    • Hindu

      @ScottCA -

      Moreover, if you want that as a state policy, that would amount to "state enforced atheism" soviet style ...

      September 15, 2012 at 4:09 am |
  10. Hindu

    Go Romney!

    September 15, 2012 at 2:26 am |
  11. Hindu

    @rexryanschoolofpodiatry

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

    my response - 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 2:25 am |
  12. GO_GOP

    In God we trust. We are a white christian nation like it or not. If not please leave..I will sponsor your air tickets.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • JUGGERNAUT

      this is now a country of mix races and immigrants.

      if you dont like it, we can pay for your air ticket.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • George Washington

      Take a peek around. Definetly not a white christian nation. You probably meant male white christian nation. Polls should be given you a tiny hint things have changed.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • Chris

      Aha, so that's what you really mean when you say you want to "take our country back".

      Finally someone explains the GOP's code language with unusual candor.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • Pastapharian

      This moron is an obvious troll, and not a very good one. Ignore it and it will go away.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Dorkus Maximus

      Dear GO_GOP, how can I get in touch with you? I want to take you up on your offer to pay my air fare to leave the U.S. Not that I don't trust you, but I'd like to get the cash up front. Thanks.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • CNN fan

      Count me in too!! Pay my airfare! I'll take 5 tickets for my family. What's your contact info so we can get your cash?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • End Religion

      "How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.” – Hitchens

      September 15, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  13. annieL

    I do not want any president telling me what God wants in the way of domestic laws and foreign policy. I have a straight line to God, as everyone does. As a bishop in his church, maybe he feels that individual believers cannot be trusted to know God's will and need prophets and clergy to tell them what to believe, think, say and do. Maybe in the old days when most people were illiterate and couldn't read scripture, let alone interpret its meaning. All of us who profess Christian faith have our own pastors and spiritual advisors. We don't need to elect one to the presidency. We also may reach different conclusions about how scripture applies to specific issues that come before our government. That is our right as citizens and as Christians.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Pastapharian

      There is no place for your religion in MY government. Keep it out of my face.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • End Religion

      "Spiritual advisors"? Who in the world knows anything more about the afterlife than you or I? None of us has been there and back. No one. It's all man-made nonsense.

      It's difficult and scary but grab a stuffed animal or favorite blanket for comfort, and repeat after me, "All religion is false. Christianity in particular was created during the Iron Age, forged from scraps of even more ancient religions, to help us fill in the gaps of our knowledge in the areas of science, medicine and law. Having grown our body of factual knowledge quite a bit in the last few thousand years, humans no longer need this ancient societal crutch. *I* no longer need the crutch of religion. I am responsible for my own actions. There is no god of any kind. I renounce the Holy Spirit."

      September 15, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  14. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUmxzJI86VQ&w=640&h=360]

    September 15, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • Hindu

      Why is a British trying so hard to have his say in American politics?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  15. Dr. Jerry

    I would like to pass a law that requires politicians to refer to God simply as "the Invisible Man in the Sky" whenever they use the reference to a deity. That would quickly and clearly illustrate the absurdity of their beliefs, as in "I will not take the Invisible Man in the Sky out of my heart." See what I mean? Do we really want a president who runs his life by communicating with an imaginary friend? I don't.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Similarly, whenever they want to use the word "faith" they should be forced to say "pretend to know something I don't," acknowledging that I dd not come up with but can't remember who did.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  16. ed p

    Romney is bringing the GOD of his faith to the USA. This same GOD is the vengeful GOD the Jews speak of, the GOD of Jesus and the God of Islam. We are all Children of Abraham. So Romney is bringing the God of Islam to the USA? That should look great on a button.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  17. NanH

    If I wasn't scared and turned off before, I really am now. Not a believer myself but if a person is that's totally fine, what I have big, big problems with is pretending to believe and forcing it on the rest of us like he is purer and better than the rest of us

    September 15, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  18. Kel

    I'm so sick of this Christian litmus test our political leaders have to go through. We say any American can be president, but we're only willing to accept certain people. White, black, woman... those are acceptable. Perhaps people would be okay with an Asian-American president. Hispanic? Probably not. Gay? Definitely not. But they have to be Christian. No Muslims, no Jews, and definitely no Athiests. There is nothing wrong with having a disbelief in God or to believe in a different God. When will Americans mature on this point?

    September 15, 2012 at 2:11 am |
    • GO_GOP

      Kel: You are so wrong. I am sick of this political correctness. This is killing our country. USA was created as a white christian nation and so it shall remain. USA is God's promised land and it will prosper. If you don't believe in this you are welcome to leave my country

      September 15, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • Pastapharian

      Pathetic troll alert.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:48 am |
  19. GO_GOP

    Our founding fathers wanted a white christian country and that is what we will have at all costs. Romney will take this country out of this mess. God is all powerful and his chosen land is the USA.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • Hindu

      Amen

      September 15, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • NanH

      You're kidding right, I mean you can't be that much of an ignorant moron, please tell me you don't know how to reproduce

      September 15, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • ScottCA

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UEqHGbh0wI&w=640&h=360]

      September 15, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • Frank

      You're a nut.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • ScottCA

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3YF73SNuY&w=640&h=360]

      September 15, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • buggabreathes

      Wow! Wow! Wow! I hope you're raising scores of children! It's people like you and your offspring that will definaltey make this world an awesome place to live! (sarcastic shrieking..)

      September 15, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • mikem

      You are wrong GO GOP.

      We are a country under law.

      We have never been a country under God. One of the reasons for the founding of this country was to have a country ruled by law, not by religion. We were founded as a country under law and we will always be a country under law, not God.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • End Religion

      "Our founding fathers wanted a white christian country and that is what we will have at all costs. Romney will take this country out of this mess. God is all powerful and his chosen land is the USA."

      And there you have it. The heart of Romney's looney following. He would be shamefully embarrassed except every vote counts, or so the story goes.

      Many of the founders were white slave owners who didn't foresee a time without slaves. Doesn't mean we can't grow and change. Growth and change is what the founders planned on.

      And has been refuted ad nauseum, many of those same founders were anti-religious Deists. They did not "want a christian country." And typical for internet badasses, you intimate violence in the same sentence as professing to be a part of a religion that purports to be based on love and tolerance. And still you cannot see how ignorant and twisted religion is, even as you wallow in the hypocritical contradictions.

      YOU are what's wrong with religion. YOU are why religion is dying.

      Romney will not win the upcoming election. You will again be under the rule of a black man, and that's what's at the heart of your anger, little man. God not only is not all powerful, he has very little left at all. And what he does have is withering away. You know this. You can feel it. It's why you're here, kicking and screaming against the inexorable march toward the end of religion. Its why you're clutching at straws like "chosen land is USA" knowing full well its only your crack-fueled delusion.

      Back to your bunker. Rush and Beck are back from break.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      White, male, christian – will that shut Sarah Palin up? Might have to consider becoming a Republican...

      September 15, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • Pastapharian

      End religion: that was a fantastic post! Thanks for taking the time to attempt to educate the ignorant GOTP base.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  20. VegasRage

    I can't wait for his speech on Joseph Smith eating a spores off cow dung and speaking to an angel name Moroni (yes, drop the i and now you know where the word mòròn comes from).

    September 15, 2012 at 2:05 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.