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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.”

CNN Belief: Can Mitt Romney’s evangelical ambassador seal the deal before Election Day?

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.

CNN Belief: Religious exemptions grow in contraception mandate

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. maltytasker

    Do I sense another flip flop?

    September 15, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • How

      if you listened to Obama on foreign policy today- then yes you heard a flip flop

      September 15, 2012 at 6:31 am |
  2. WU

    “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.”

    The governer is doping one thing......Its called pandering.

    God and religion....the realm of people who are too stupid and cowardly to just say "I don't know".

    September 15, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      You say pandering like its a bad thing. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  3. unowhoitsme

    Relligion messes EVERYONE up...we don't need a religious nut in office who helps the rich and ignores the poor. What a hypocrite! If Mitt wins...the working class and senior lose. Religion is his coverup. When a political leader won't let the people see his tax returns and his vice president candidate Ryan lies about the small stuff, this country is doomed.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • yale

      Individuals are to be blamed not religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • How

      keep drinking the kool-aid! Yep Romney is bad for seniors and the middle class. I bet you can't give me one exams of how, but Obamas currently destroying America with his failed policies and you like that!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:27 am |
  4. 2357

    God doesn't care who you vote for.
    God doesn't care who's in the white house.
    God only cares about one thing, that his son Jesus is being heard and believed by sinners everywhere.
    The rest is fluff. Pure fluff. Don't get distracted by pilates and Caesars popes and presidents. They can barely save your bills and pills.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  5. Just say no

    Remember Willards God is not the same god that Christians worship. For some strange reason Willard thinks that hs god iws the father to both Jesus and the devil. Please America think long and hard before you turn this country over to the Mormon Church.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • How

      right we are turning the country over to the mormon church.LOL you're a perfect example of why it's important to get an education

      September 15, 2012 at 6:14 am |
    • Lori

      Those of us who are nonbelievers are educated.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • How

      I highly doubt you're educated Lori- you like Obama. That says it all;)

      September 15, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • Lori

      Sorry, I have a four year science degree so I would say I'm educated. Obama 2012 🙂

      September 15, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • How

      Lori- you ate about as dumb as they come and so clearly misinformed that I actually pity you. This is why America is in trouble! Romney will control womens bodies? LOL so you're a good little sheep and believed that war on women bs. First of all Romney will not do anything to controll women's bodies. Secondly, isn't it ironic that you want government out of your body when it comes to abortion, but you want the government to have full controll over your entire body through obamacare! LOL is it irony or stupidity.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • Lori

      Omg, the insults.. Lol

      September 15, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • truth be told

      Watching bill nye reruns for four years does not qualify as a degree lori

      September 15, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • Lori

      Quit being a child and flinging insults. It's unbecoming...to you and your party. Plz stop.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • Lori

      I know this truth, hence busting my as s in college. Moron.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • truth be told

      No English classes or communication skills to bust your ass on lori?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • Lori

      Truth, go get laid.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  6. OnArt

    Nice brownnosing attempt in his clown costume

    September 15, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  7. Eldrick

    A disgusting and desparate effort to use his religion to win an election.
    What part of separation of church and state do Republicans not understand?

    September 15, 2012 at 6:11 am |
    • How

      Did you hear Obama read from scripture today? You're a moron

      September 15, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  8. Mark Yelka

    I was a Mormon for 12 years. Mormons say they are the ONLY ones that god approves of. Every other religion is wrong. Romney has sworn an oath to follow the orders of Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet and head of the Mormon church. Not good.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • How

      Right go study when Kennedy got elected- they said the same thing about him.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:08 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      Not so. The Mormons control in a way that Catholics could only dream of. To get a Temple Recommend, a member of the Mormon church is interrogated and must promise to follow and sustain the Mormon Prophet. This is a very formal process that does not exist in the Catholic church.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • OnArt

      Hey isn't that what the Koran thinks too?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      I don't know. The Mormons have a belief that they will take over the government. At the very least, Mormons swear to obey the orders of their Prophet. I don't want Thomas S. Monson to be controlling America through a puppet President.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • 2357

      Mormons, Moonies, Muslims and Marxist Malcolm Xers, All in it to win it and take America for a rough ride around the block. Bless her Father for she has sinned much with the kings of the earth.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:30 am |
  9. Vesper

    If this "man" wins I will denounce my American birthright. Seriously. I will know the America has officially been flushed. He talks from three sides and more if you look hard enough. He is not change he is reverse, a very bad reverse. I do not trust Willard, yes is real name is Willard, why would he use his middle name? anyways Willard is a deceitful rat and his wife is cold and unfeeling.

    If she really has MS then that's too bad, but the way she looks and acts and even talks at these conventions tells me she does not care about anything other than Willard being in office to fulfill some Mormon crap prophecy. She went as far as to say that "they" understand people's medical pain and maybe not to their extent, but they knew it and they way she said it was hateful. What an unfeeling cur. Now Michelle Obama beams with pride toward her husband when he gives speeches and she is full of compassion.

    Romney pulling the God card all the time tells me if he gets into office we will be visited on a weekly basis of those missionary boys that come around every now and again, but it will be like a fungus guarantee it! Romney smells too culty and if those that vote for him are just as culty, ignorant, and very uneducated.

    The reason Obama has not been able to do most things is because of Republican congress members vetoing against anything that will hurt their pockets. We are suffering from not having jobs and Romney only complains about it but doesn't tell you how they will fix it. He does a lot of back talk and finger pointing but doesn't show any direction he is going to take to fix it. But hey if you want the blind leading the blind by all means cast your vote.

    I WILL NOT BECOME A MORMON! AMERICA STAND UP AND DEMAND SEPARATION OF STATE AND RELIGION! WE ARE A FEW AMENDMENTS AWAY FROM FALLING IN THE DARK AGES AGAIN! VOTE RESPONSIBLY VOTE OBAMA 2012!

    September 15, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • How

      You're entire comment makes you a simpleton. Obama had a democratic congress for the first 2 years. Thank god we have republicans stopping him now from causing further damage. All of his policies have been failures. And the economy is getting Worse and you want to talk about someone's personal religious beliefs. LOL the federal reserve printed more money- do you even understand why that's bad? If the economy was moving "forward" and getting better the government would not be printing more money

      September 15, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • Lori

      Damn, how, you are so blind. Romney will be the fast track to this country's demise. Our seniors will have to rely on vouchers and women's bodies will be controlled. Forget it. I wouldn't vote for this a s s if he was my only choice. He's scary along with his lying puppet who trods beside him.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:14 am |
  10. Hilo, HI

    Last week, at an event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Romney pledged to keep God on U.S. currency.

    I don't care WHAT is on the Damn Money -Just see to it I get some again.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:53 am |
  11. james hotz

    Just let the muslems see kates boobs and they'll forget all about the Mohammad film. What did the muslems do with Kadafy's wine celler?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • Lori

      Lol, I love it 🙂

      September 15, 2012 at 6:17 am |
  12. Mark Yelka

    Mormonism believes it is the only true religion. All the rest are fakes. The Mormons want their Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, to be in the White House. Romney is their best chance of controlling America.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • sb

      @Mark yelka.......what in the hell are you talking about?? President monson does not wish to rule the government! You say people are interrogated in order to get a temple recommend?!?!?!? Are u kidding me?? You know thats a lie! Go headbutt a bullet.

      September 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  13. Vincent

    It is more than apparent that Mitt Romney will say whatever he believes the audience wants to hear to get their vote. This was the case in Israel and Poland, and now again here (and elsewhere). He seems to confuse pandering with principles. He exhibits much of the former, but little of the latter. What then would he do as President?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Are you trying to say those are bad qualities for a president? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • Lori

      Romney is a moron.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • How

      Hav you ever heard Obama talk? LOL this community organizer has been a failure in every way, but you want to give him 4 more years to cause further damage because you're ignorant and misinformed

      September 15, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Lori

      Yes. Obama/ Biden 2012. You vote for whomever you want. I'll respect your decision and I expect the same from you.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:07 am |
  14. Karloff

    Bid deal–so a politician believes in some delusional ooga-booga, regardless of its origin. The real controversy would be over the candidacy of an openly atheist politician, which will NEVER happen in this "god-fearing" nation.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    My relationship with God does not require me to vote for Romney. In fact, I am going to vote for President Obama.
    I wish that Romney would follow the Biblical admonition to pray in secret.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • How

      so you're proving you're ignorant and non-religious

      September 15, 2012 at 5:49 am |
    • Kang Tut

      Yes, wouldn't it be nice if people kept their insanity to themselves without shouting nonsense in the street?
      Every Congress has had loud prayers before every session. These violations must stop.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:51 am |
    • Dee

      How: is Joey ignorant? Because he doesn't agree with Romney and see things your way?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Lori

      Im intelligent. I'm atheist, which mean I'm a thinker, not someone who relies on blind faith. Quit with th insults, it's very tiresome. Damn.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • How

      Dee- no because he want to give a 4 year promotion to a failure- that's why he's ignorant. We have freedom of religion in this country. Obama talked about God today and scripture in his speech- do he's not voting for Obama either.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • Lori

      Romney will be a bigger failure. Wake up.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • How

      romney will be a bigger failure? LOL first of all you can't do worse than Obama! Let's see you have a community organizer who never had any experience running anything and has proven he has failed at the job. Or you have a successful businessman who's made money and created jobs, was a good governor and made the Olympics one of the most profitable in history. Hmmmmmm this is a tuff one.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Lori

      Ugh..

      September 15, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • Lori

      Hopeless how...

      September 15, 2012 at 6:22 am |
  16. Wowy

    Romney is a Liar! Romney is a Flipflopper! Romney is a Flimfam man! Romney is a Phony! Romney is a Hypocrite! Buying America votes is not the answer for the American People! Romney is not qualified to be President of the United States of America!

    September 15, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Are you saying those are bad things? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  17. Jendro

    Whatever Mitt Romney declares himself to be, his behavior is certainly not that of a follower of Christ, nor one whose life is governed by the commandments of God, as he now so fondly proclaims. He does not seem to be bothered by telling and broadcasting untruth, nor by disobeying the eighth commandment, which is not to bear false witness against your neighbor, i.e., your fellow-beings. The Christ I read about in my Scriptures had some harsh words to say about those who flaunt their religiosity- he called them hypocrites and worse.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • truth be told

      Mormons are not Christians, Mormonism was founded in protest of Christianity.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • Lemons

      @truth be told
      I highly suggest you read a history book. All christianity is, is a the belief in christ. that's it. that's the basis no mater how much you want to distances yourself from it.
      I say read a history book because the christians murdered an entire town of mormons. that is why the fleed to Utah. to escape the christians and their murderous ways. the crap that happened then is no different then the sunnis and shiites killing each other.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 15, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • Zeke2112

      No, it does not. All children are born atheists, so it cannot be unhealthy for them.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:42 am |
    • truth be told

      All children are born direct from the throne of God with an inner knowledge of God. They are given the opportunity in this life to accept God in love and return to God and the wonderful eternity God has prepared. Woe to that person that denies a child eternal life.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • Hilo, HI

      Interesting read, "Prayer, A History"

      For 10s of 1,000s of years , Prayer and Meditation has indeed worked, culture after culture, all over this planet.

      One interesting bit, the non-denominational 'Serenity Prayer' is being prayed RIGHT NOW, somewhere in the world, whatever Time you are reading this, 24/7, due to all 12-Step Recovery Meetings ending with it, and a 12 Step Meeting of 1 kind or another in Every Nation/Time Zone...did I explain that clearly?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:51 am |
    • Dee

      Hilo, HI – yeah...prayer works....tell that to the 6,000,000 who perished at the hands of Hitler. None of them prayed, right? How about the thousands of people who were killed on Sept. 11th? Do you think the people on the airplanes prayed when they saw a fellow passenger or their pilot stabbed to death? Do you think that anyone prayed in the WTC while the thick, black, acrid smoke was swirling around their feet and it was getting more and more difficult to breathe? You're going to tell us that NOBODY prayed? Or are you going to tell us that God wasn't listening to their prayers? Or maybe....your wonderful God WANTED the Holocaust and Sept. 11th to happen. If that's your God, then you can have him. I don't want to pray to a God who allows evil to triumph over good. That's not a benevolent deity. Pray to your worthless God to see if he listens to you. And when you're begging him to save the life of a loved one and "he" allows that person to die, you can be comforted that that's what God wanted. Why wouldn't God want you to be happy?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • Lori

      Well said, dee. Finally someone who thinks with reason and logic.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • 2357

      "it is appointed for man to die one, and after this the judgement"
      No amount of earnest prayer is going to change God's curse on humanity. We're all going to grow old get sick and die. Prayer can only change my heart's standing before my Maker. And that is enough a path to total salvation, thanks to the good Father in heaven.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  19. Hilo, HI

    Oh CNN, GIVE IT A REST ALREADY.

    Romney is a businessman NOT a zealot, and I am now going to vote for him just to spite you.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:38 am |
  20. Doug

    As an American, a voter and a non believer I do not want this stuff pushed down my throat.. There is no place for this in politics, every time I hear it I wonder what they have done that they need to make the public think they are such good people..
    I am so glad this type of rhetoric has been removed from schools and other government business..
    As for Romney, hey fella, I would love to see those taxes.. I can't help but wonder if God was on his mind when Bain wiped out the pensions of businesses and filled his pockets.. This man is a total hypocrite..
    And since I'm on my soap box, America, if you want to cast blame for the unemployment here in America, look in your own garage, if there's a foreign car the blame in all on you.. Buying American is the only way to put America back to work.. Period... The blame is on the public, believe it or not, its a fact, and it's real folks !!!!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • Lori

      I wholeheartedly agree

      September 15, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • Hilo, HI

      Doug, I agree 100% with AMERICANS 100% RESPONSIBLE for our economy.

      "Romney moved jobs overseas" over & over......Well? He was hired to make profits, and he did. IF you were so upset, why buy all that junk, BILLIONS worth. We need to VOTE WITH OUR WALLETS. Apple, Textiles, ALL of it would be here so fast our heads would spin, and no need for too expensive (same scare tactic used to defend slavery) -just take the cost for Fair Wages out of inflated CEO salaries and unjustified 'bonuses'.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • Abbie

      I'm guessing that a lot of believers are also getting sick of having this stuff rammed down their throats.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • pervert alert

      Ever since qu eers came out of closets this rammed down throats bull sh it is being spewed. No one is ramming anything . Qu eers the people who gave the world AIDS

      September 15, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • How

      we have freedom OF religion in this country- not freedom FROM religion. If you don't like it, don't listen to it. It's not anyone else's problem that you choose to be ignorant. And you prove you're a simpleton by bringing up romneys tax returns! Use your brain here little sheep: don't you think if there was something wrong with his taxes the IRS would know and don't you think dirty Obama could get access to those. Are you really that ignorant or that naive? Obama's team has already seen them! What you obviously don't get I'd that they pander to peoria line you because you're easily distracted by non-issues. Get an education and a brain!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • Lori

      Take a chill pill, how, it's not that serious. Remember, you are a little nothing compared to the grand scheme.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:03 am |
    • Mirosal

      The U.S. Supreme Court has said that freedom of religion DOES include freedom FROM religion as well. And it is unconsti'tutional to use religion as a basis to run for office. You cannot use your faith, or your opponent's, to determine just how qualified one is to hold that office (Article Six).

      September 15, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • Geff

      I tried not long ago to see if some producer might be interested in a TV show called: MADe in America. This show would challenge a contractor to build a home with nothing but "Made in America" labels. The show would showcase how dependent we have become on foreign material, and would of course appeal to folks like us who are tired of not having an American made product to buy in many cases.

      PS I drive a Ford, my wife a chevy when were not riding my Harley!

      September 15, 2012 at 10:26 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.