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. atx888

    He turns to God after seeing his sinking poll numbers. God then ask him to release all his tax returns or no deal.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • G-D

      Mitt- please release your tax returns.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  2. G-D


    September 15, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • saggyroy


      September 15, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  3. sharky

    TAX the Churches and TAX the business's own by the Churches. They want to play in the political spectrum then they should be paying TAXES like the rest of us. Religion is like the Law its all in the interpretation... So be careful people. You will not like the TV evangelists and every other clergy ruling you. They prey on the poor and misdirected people and steal their money at the same time. and they get very wealthy from it.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Jebbb

      You're correct. Romney has nothing to offer 99% of the American people except misery, while he makes the 1% even richer. So he's trying to convince us he's on God's side. Maybe there is no god but God, and Mitt Romney is his Prophet. Or not. Show us the golden tablets, Mitt. Like there ever were any.

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

    You would think that congress is split into so many special intrest groups as it is without bringing in religious devides, is that not what the founding fathers meant by seperation of church and state. I find it informative that in most other democracies in the industrial nations that the religious affiliation of the people running for leadership of the nation is not even mentioned or matter to the electorate.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  5. William

    Only a Liberal station like CNN would refer to mentioning god as "rhetoric". Now for 3 years I have heard how Obama isnt a Muslim. Yet he hasn't cast a shadow on a church in how long? I guess the only place that feeds his soul is a church which cusses America and believes in Black Supremacy. I predict that the closer to the election gets the more he will visit churches. I have read on these pages what Liberals have to say about Mormons, Christians and especially Jews. Considering the vast majority of Dem history was filled with KKK, Jim Crow laws, segregation and lynching they are going back to their roots.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Anne

      It is rhetoric and there is separation of church and state....something the bible sporting right wing republicans dont understand.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • G-D

      you are delusinal but even you may be save my son

      September 15, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  6. Kathy

    Wow, God in his speech. I am not sure which god he is talking about, but he never mentions Jesus because he is not a Christian. Mormons are a cult no matter how much the GOP is trying to show mormons as slightly Christian. I wonder how many wives he really has?LOL

    September 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • William

      Bigoted. Crude. Simpleminded and thuggish. You demonstrate all the hallmarks of todays Liberal.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Anne

      William they are a cult and they are weird.....

      September 15, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • saggyroy

      @Anne yeah weirder than a woman convinced by a snake to eat an apple, a guy living in a whale for 3 days.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Primewonk

      @Anne – All religions are cults. Sorry.

      As for weird – I guess a magical sky daddy who ràpes and impregnated a young girl with himself so that he can sacrifice himself to himself so if we ritualistically eat his flesh and drink his blood we can live in the sky with him forever – that makes perfect sense!

      September 15, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Christy9

      Romney is a Mormon first! Read about the religion and you will be surprised as was I, when I spoke to a former member. Romney has only just begun!

      September 15, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • snowboarder

      cult – an unpopular religion
      religion – a popular cult

      September 15, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  7. bill.x

    If Romney wants to speak God – then he wants to speak about what is a mormon and what is known about it – becuase different peoples around the world have different versions or understanding of god. Mormons claim to be christians because a guy from upstate New York was drunk one day, looked into a hole in the ground, found tablets which he claimed had instructions from Jesus Christ, and that amongst many unbelievable things, was given the right to own as many wives as he and the other mormon men wanted. Of course he maintained the tablets were then lost. His grandfather's family was run out of town to Mexico when they refused to own women in that way. Mormons are not Christian – they are pretenders – antichrist spritual cells – trying to bring their beliefs into the mainstream.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • saggyroy

      "...and that amongst many unbelievable things," And how are those things different from the resurrection, a woman convinced by a snake to eat an apple, a guy living in a whale for 3 days?

      September 15, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  8. najie2

    All this talk about the Lord coming from a man who had to learn how to "lie for the lord' on account of his Mormonism.... (Google "Lying for the Lord" and see what comes up in your search...)

    September 15, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  9. Rocket

    Mitt, how much are you giving up to get in the good graces of these people? Playing the religion card is a shallow, desperate move, and everyone sees why you are doing it. If you want people to respect you, stop trying to make everyone like you and take a stance on a valid topic.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  10. Dan

    I guess we'll find out if the Giant Magic Fairy who created the universe and his son Pixie Pete truly exist and if they support Romney in his current venture or not. If not, I do feel sorry for Mitt having to go back to his billions of dollars, multiple houses, cars, vacations, hair...

    September 15, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • William

      ...."billions of dollars, multiple houses, cars, vacations, hair..."
      You must be referring to the majority of Limo Liberals like Rangle who can afford a dacha in the Dominican Republic or Pelosi who is rich beyond my imagination. Obama isnt exactly poor either and he didnt earn a dime with true work.
      But i guess the only good rich person is a liberal, right?

      September 15, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  11. Kebos

    How can a man in the USA become President who has a history of involvement with a cult founded by a lunatic?

    September 15, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • billdeacons

      Read Dreams for my Father and see.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • najie2

      Amen to that one, Kebos!

      September 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • G-D

      he has a brain tumor

      September 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • William

      Have you heard the sermons from the preacher that Obama sat and listened to for 20 years? That didnt matter then but Romney being a Mormon now is? I guess the only thing worse to you is if he was a Jew.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • G-D

      William, would you please leave my people out of this one for now.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  12. Kang Tut

    I see Romney has once again decided to show his complete lack of respect for our country and our laws.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  13. Deist

    Perhaps if Willard were more like his father, a real person who earned his riches and reputation, I would have considered voting for him, but as the robot-like, snake oil salesman that he now is, only the bigots, other rich and selfish and terminally stupid Limbaugh addicts could consider this option.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  14. NoNoNoNoNo Romney

    what a "Moron" – This is the worst campaign i've ever seen – He looks totally uncomfortable and angry when he speaks, he doesn't know the issues, says anything for a cheap political point and has no ground to stand on.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  15. Deist

    Willard, great that you've left "God" in your speech. Now, just work on taking out the "Hate" you have for women, minorities, and the poor, who do not meet up to the standards of your elitist egomania.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  16. PAUL

    Why Is It That He Does Not Make References To His Prophet Joseph Smith??


    September 15, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • G-D

      because then he wood have to explain the angel macaoni

      September 15, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  17. ALKP

    The man is desperate. That is why I am voting against him yet not for obama.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  18. carly

    Romney is pandering as usual. He has zero to offer the American people.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  19. .

    The chickens have come home to roooost.

    So says the Reverend Wright.

    Remember him?

    I can't wait for election day.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  20. DaveInPA

    Romney is desperate... he's grasping at straws

    September 15, 2012 at 7:17 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.