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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 Ducks

    It disgusts me that everyone seems to think that the United States is some christian nation, when we in fact are not. I dislike very much being lumped together with knuckleheads who believe in a guy in the sky performing miracles. All religions are nothing but spin-offs from bronze age mythologies and as such do not belong anywhere near our government. It seems like the further we progress these days, the more we seem to regressing into some sort of new religious holy war. The utter stupidity of our leaders, and of the people in general in the world is frankly starting to scare me.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:51 am |
  2. David in Cincinnati

    Typical GOP usurping religion.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  3. Dave

    Not even God is going to get Romney elected. We've seen his character in action, and it's far from Godly.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:48 am |
  4. Babs

    I absolutely disagree with several of the comments made on this website. I do believe that Mitt Romney is indeed a man of God and a man of principles. It is so evident. Look at how he has helped people and how he cares and how he would prefer to keep his good deeds private. That told me alot right there. I just wish people would take a step back and stop tearing him down but rather, look at his accomplishments. He has the ability to help this country if some people would just give him a chance. President Obama has not done this so move aside and let someone else give it a try!

    September 15, 2012 at 4:39 am |
    • Go Ducks

      Romney isn't gonna do jack to help this country. He will be just like every other politician- corrupt, self-serving, and completely out of touch with 99% of America.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  5. Ludovico Maria Sinistrari

    How many nations under god are there? And which nations does god like best? Does god even have a friggin map of all the countries? Because Israel is getting bigger and Palestine keeps getting smaller....so I think god must love Israel more than he loves Palestine. God must really hate Haiti. Look what's going on there. And for a country who's people name themselves Jesus, Mexico isn't doing so good either. They must not be praying hard enough.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  6. mork

    just another bible thumper with money... yawn

    September 15, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • John Wilson

      Actually Romney's God is suppose to be some relocated Alien, from another planet.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:48 am |
  7. AEvangelista

    What a moron he is. When he says "God" he of course means the God described by his own religion. And religions just make up stuff about God when they don't really know what's going on.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • Go Ducks

      Don't you mean religions always make stuff up?

      September 15, 2012 at 4:54 am |
  8. Icurheinie

    Vote for Gary Johnson.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:14 am |
  9. Dejavu65

    Romney is getting desperate again....I swear he does anything to get elected!!!!....Does he not know that according to mormans their prophet is more powerful than God!!!....confusing

    September 15, 2012 at 4:13 am |
  10. Icurheinie

    The underlying tones of Romney's desperacy has reached levels of nausea. He keeps throwing dirt on his own grave.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:12 am |
  11. heyheyhey

    Get off your soap box Romney it is super obnoxious. One thing that is super annoying is people who talk about God 247.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  12. Terry

    Romney is a member of a cult founded by a slick con-artist. Which makes sense considering Romney talks like a used car salesman. Sorry. I might be a Republican, but I'm not buying.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • Dejavu65

      Thats funny I tell people all the time pay attention to Romney when he talks you can tell he lying just like a used car salesman,,we are on the same page with that one, lol

      September 15, 2012 at 4:10 am |
  13. GO_GOP

    Mirosal: The natives were here, but we whites turned them into civilized God fearing human beings and so this is now our country.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • what?

      stop writing posts your making the rest of use white people look stupid, and ohh stop living in the dark ages.

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

      if your "god" is supposed to be so loving, WHY would I need to be a god-"fearing" person? What should be afraid of? If this deity is so loving and compas'sionate, why do I need to fear it?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • 2357

      You fear God because he is holy, and we are sinful. And he giver of all goodness in life, as well as death and profound anguish. God doesnt need any creature, yet we need God more than we will ever know. So fear only indicates that you understand who he is. "fear of God is the Beginning of wisdom"

      September 15, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • Mirosal

      I fear your "god" just like I fear getting caught in a stampede of unicorns, or getting mugged by a gang of thug leprechauns. In order to be wise, one must first open their mind. And that's the ONE thing that ALL religions do NOT want you to do. Ask yourself "Why don't they want me to have an open mind?", and you'll start to see that's it's just the ancient myths in new, improved packaging.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:23 am |
  14. Lost

    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor...thou shalt not covet....
    What about incessant lying, switching constantly on important issues, stealing, and obstruction? Grandstanding, baiting, not following The Golden Rule,...all of these things are foul and hateful...all of the above have been things committed by this man throughout the election campaign, and those who support him. What's next, a one man, unannounced sword fight at the debates? Dude, how low can you go? As far as him being a religious guide or role model of any kind, this man isn't even credible enough to guide people across the street. Those who do the dirtiest deeds, do so under the cover of faith.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:21 am |
  15. what?

    so I guess there goes separation of church and state? stop pushing your chirstian morals on society.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  16. Hindu

    That @pastapharian conceded even before he began it.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  17. GO_GOP

    Mirosal and 0G (or whatever the hell you call yourself): You will pay for this on Judgement Day. Just wait and see. I have my lord to turn to in my troubles. Who have you got? It is because of you sickos our country is losing it's way. Just leave this country and leave us alone. And yes blacks, asians, latinos have no place in my country.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • Mirosal

      going by THAT logic, then whites have no place here either. Native Americans were here for thousands of years before the white man showed up.. you'd better start packing as well.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:19 am |
    • End Religion

      GOP: 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 4:00 am |
    • Go Ducks

      Your post is yet another reason why religion should be kept as far away from government as possible.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:57 am |
  18. nik green

    Imagine if it was a liberal who believed in aliens from the Planet Kolob.... the corporate media would eat him for breakfast.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  19. Dorkus Maximus

    Romney wants to take us back to a time when his faith openly embraced polygamy. Thankfully, he's got enough money to support hundreds of wives.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • End Religion

      Mormonism was brought about through evolution. Male Mormons have found it an effective way to procreate, having tricked a harem of women into accepting Mormon seed. Most other religions force a one-on-one relationship, resulting in minimal fertilization. Other religions, particularly Catholicism and Islam, seem to be a bit hampered here by their apparent desire to spread seed to other males and children.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  20. Mirosal

    @ go_gop ... you said WHITE chrsitian principles... what about African-American christians? Asian chrsitians? Latino chrsitians? Don't they have principles as well? You seem to be a typically racist X-tian bas'tard.
    TO ALL ... if you really, REALLY, think "god" has all the answers, do NOT vote for the man you think has the best "relatioship" with "god".. instead, cut out the middle-man and just write in "god" on your ballot in November. Go ahead, I triple-dog dare you. Write in "god" on your ballot, and we'll see what happens on Jan 20th, 2013. It will get mighty interesting if "god" wins the election wouldn't it?

    September 15, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      The silly believers have been waiting 2,000+ years for jesus to return. How long do you think they'll wait for god to show up, if he was to win the election?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:08 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.