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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.

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. Brett

    This is contrary to our founding principles and specifically why I'll vote against him.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  2. George Carlin Clone

    But He(God) needs your money, all powerful, omnipotent, God, but he can't handle money. Now Romney, with the help of God, Joeseph Smith, Brigham Young and Swiss bank accounts can handle money, in particular his own fortune. An ideal candidate for President for the 1% as he knows every tax loophole ever created and more to come under his leadership.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  3. Bob B

    The God thing will help finish Romney.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  4. Sane Person

    Yes, thats what the world needs. A guy with his finger on the button who hears invisible winged cloud fairies in his head.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  5. oldbones24

    Jesus told us no one can serve two masters, Romney's master is MONEY not God. He has proved this by making big money by hurting others.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  6. Askmehow

    THERE IS NO MANUAL FOR LIFE.

    People need to stop bsing No one is born with the bible or the koran attached to the umbilical cord.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  7. Paul B. Huntington III

    Fact: at cern they found the "God particle" fully proving God does exist.

    why wont liberals face up to the fact the science found the "God particle"

    September 15, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • midwest rail

      Rational humans can only hope you're joking.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • oldbones24

      and the religion gene, the ability to believe in things unseen.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Bob B

      Numb nut.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • snowboarder

      you've got to be kidding me.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Mitch Too

      Close, they have found the energy range in which the Higgs Boson should exist but have yet to observe the boson itself, unless I am behind the curve; I try to keep up to date on the LHC at Cern.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • Stopthemadness

      It doesn't matter how important your name looks that comment was so horribly wrong it can't even begin to say how delusional it was. The higgs bosson is a particle also known as the gos particle because it is so small it is smaller than the atomic level. It has it's own gravitaional pull with all other elemental atoms and makes matter exist. If anything it Proves the theory of GOD false. YOU TOOL.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Xavier

      The comment you made is a prime example of ignorance. Have you even read about this "God Particle" to find out what it it is? Let me school you because I think you need some schooling: 1) The search for the Higgs Boson particle is looking likely but hasn't been conclusively proven as a fact just yet. 2) It's called the "God Particle" but has nothing to do with proving God's existence. Do you want to prove me wrong? Pick up an actual book or read an article about it to educate yourself about this and try. Maybe you'll learn something,

      September 15, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  8. Purush

    So now Romney wants to invoke God into the campaign. He is realising that all of what he treid has failed to cut ice with American public. So he wants to give this angle also a shot. Pathetic.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  9. charles bowen

    Flash," God Died in The Big Bang" News at 11 ...! Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    September 15, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  10. Paul B. Huntington III

    how is romny any differnet then obama who said in an interview he was a die hard xtain and was washed by the blood of jeebus and now has eternal life.

    they were spouting bible verses right and left at the DNC

    so how are libnuts superior?

    September 15, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • charles bowen

      We Know that ," God Died in The Big Bang" Thats what happens in a really Big Bang ... Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

      September 15, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  11. Anonymous

    This is a losing strategy. People are voting for a politician...not a religious figure. If Americans wanted religion in their Capitol they would elect their priest.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Anonymous

      ...and they certainly wouldn't elect a mormon.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  12. Martin

    Notice how Romney refers to God as "it".? Shouldn't that at least be "It" with a capital "I"? This guy is such a pandering phony. In fact "it's" obivious...God knows!

    September 15, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  13. Trevor

    I thinks it's f-ing scary that people running for president well argue over who believes in Santa more. Religion is socially accepted insanity.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  14. MP in VA

    When the need for us to wear God on our sleeve is ended, when the need to pander to God is no longer necessary, when WALKING the walk rather than TALKING the talk demonstrates a person's character, when the core of our faith is rooted in a personal relationship with God rather than a public display of religious affection, only then will we truly be a righteous nation. Until then, our belief is nothing but holographic and contrived.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Cavalierhoo

      Amen, brother.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • oldbones24

      Right on!

      September 15, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  15. mique

    Obama 2012.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  16. Sandy

    Ryan's so called values are stuck in a world that not longer exists. In fact he is frightening many non Christians. He and he GOP must remember that you do not have to be a Christian Republican to be a patriotic American with equal values .He and Romney and the GOP have much to learn about the diversity that makes the United States great.This constant GOD speak is making many of my non Christian friends feel like strangers in their own country. This is very sad and disheartening.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  17. NoPunIntended

    Sometimes I think Romney is trying to throw this election, not that it was ever his to throw.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  18. curtmanda

    Mormons spend their lives in a lifelong, very insane, hallucination

    September 15, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Pagan72

      The fact that they follow another human is the nail in the symbolic coffin–Joseph Smith was not a Buddha nor a Christ. In other words, he was a false prophet to begin with. Look at the religion, look at the world–Smith was a false prophet and was NOT sent by God. In other words, he was sent by another. Have a good day.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  19. curtmanda

    This guy needs to seriously take his ridiculous "Joseph Smith the prophet" believin' *ss outta the race.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  20. najie2

    Willard is a man who actually LEARNED HOW TO LIE – on account of his religion – and decided it would serve him good to apply the "lying" to his life, generally. The long and short about it: HE IS A LIAR, AND CAN'T HELP IT.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Kang Tut

      I think we need to put these pathological liars in an asylum where they cannot cause any more damage to others.
      They are clearly mentally ill and should be removed from public life and public service. All of them.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Lisa

      I don't know who needs treatment worse: the pathological liars, or the fools who actually believe them.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:10 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.