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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. jpptpa

    ‎"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” (Mitt Romney 2012) – Separation of church and state issues not withstanding, I dont think Mitt put anything into the party platform to begin with! Rather, it was more like: "Can I see a copy?"

    September 15, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  2. luanndc

    Since he's had his foot in his mouth all week and now that the world has seen the Chinese statement about the money and jobs he has sent to them, God is just about all he has left.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • southexas

      Mitt, welcome to the world of God. Before God. I guess you worshipped Mohammed or another follower of God. This is OK. However, there's only one God though different people and cultures have different names for him . When you die, you'll see that there's only one God and he created all us and the universe.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  3. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Perhaps Mitt will proclaim a new God, one that all believers can be comfortable with. One without details that actually pin down what it is about, other than it's good and loves every one of us and America too. One that wants faith, but not of any specific kind. One that hears all prayers from everyone regardless of what they think they are praying to. One that blesses food and sporting events. One that offers hope, but nothing specific, to people who are lonely, ill or dying. One that despises homosexuality but tolerates most everything else most people are comfortable with. One that punishes the wicked, but not us.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Drink my Kool-aid

      You mean every man made God ever?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Essentially like any God people would be comfortable with, but without specifics. Mitt needs a generic God.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  4. Conservative

    The Republicans are against everything Jesus stood for; help the poor no questions asked, the rich are evil, peace. Saying your a Christian is different than being one.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  5. MagicPanties

    Ok, Mitt the Twit, let's talk about god, let's talk about the planet Kolob, let's talk about Mormon magic underwear, let's talk about how Mitt will become an actual god when he dies and rule his very own planet.

    Yeah, let's bring the Mormon cult into the limelight.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Think about it...

      He is confused, maybe he thought he was going to rule THIS planet, Anntoinette Romney sure acts like a queen already, remember her "you people", she may as well have said "Let them eat cake".

      September 15, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The president of the USA does rule this planet. You need to be Kolob-bered. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  6. Dan586

    How can Mitt talk about God when he don't even believe in the Christian Bible. Based on the Book of Mormon Mitt believes he is on the road of being a God himself.

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

    Bringing our God in his campaigning seems to be a cover all last ditch effort to win but I think it will hurt more than anything else. He is Mormon and his religion is based on a young kid, Joseph Smith in 1820 who claimed to have been sent a message from God to start a new faith and was given access to some Golden tablets with the written word of his faith to guide him. Smith and his followers were chased from New York to Missouri where he was eventually killed. Mormons are hard working, industrious people but having worked and lived with many in Idaho they are highly aloof if you are not Mormon giving you the impression that they feel they are on a higher scale and based on their religion they also feel they will be the only people left on Judgement Day since they hoard food and supplies in their homes and churches that lasts at least one year for that purpose. This is not the man I want leading our country.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  8. hal9thou

    He's a Mormon. He will never be President of the United States. Stands more of a chance than a Jew or Muslim, but not by much. The angel Moroni will weep all over his golden plates. If he can find them, that is...

    September 15, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  9. GO_GOP

    AtheistSteve: Do you have a proof of his non-existence? Bet you don't. And just like if there is a watch there must be a watchmaker, if there is an universe there must be an universe maker. Proved.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • midwest rail

      Care to prove that the President is a Godless atheist ?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Drink my Kool-aid

      I love your logic GO_GOP, we don't know, therefore God. How stupid.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • MagicPanties

      Using your "logic", if there is a god then there must be a god-creator and if there is a god-creator there must be a god-creator-creator and so on infinitely.
      There is no proof, that's why they call it "faith".
      Get a clue.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Bill

      The tide goes in, the tide goes out. The tide goes in, the tide goes out. We don't know why; therefore, it must be God.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Logic fail. I'm not the one making the claim so I don't need to provide proof. You made the claim and followed by saying you had overwhelming proof. We're still waiting.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Think about it...

      Why would an all knowing powerful God create so many inferior minds, that's my "proof".

      September 15, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • captain america

      Tell that ass hole canadian that "we" stops at the border, tell him "we" don't need or want its atheist bull sh it here "we" are one nation under God. Mind your own F"n business steve. There's your sign

      September 15, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Fuck off captain america. You're an embarrassment to good and decent Americans everywhere.
      There's your sign you stupid tool.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  10. Larry

    Does the phrase "Separation of church and state" hold no meaning to anyone. Any govt blinded by religious dogma is doomed to fail. I have no problem with his personal religious beliefs – believe what you want its a free country. I have a problem with his forcing his religion on the rest of us. That is the bottom line Mitt – save the Sunday school for church.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  11. Marco

    "Beware of false prophets (or, in this case a presidential candidate), which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Romney is a hypocrite plan and simple. Wake up people.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Ronald Regonzo

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

      September 15, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  12. GO_GOP

    I do not know what is wrong with the liberals and atheists? Why can't they tolerate our creator when there is overwhelming proof of his existence? Romney is a decent deeply religious man who would do God's work if elected. God bless his soul. I will vote for him without thinking twice. Hope we elect him in November and put and end to this Godless atheist we have in office presently.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      If you have proof you're the first. Care to elaborate on that claim? Wait ...never mind....as usual you're just blowing smoke.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • captain america

      Talk about some ass hole blowing smoke, a foreign ass hole trying to impress US by pretending to be one of US. Who will you be voting for steve, that's right no one because you don't live here. There's your sign.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • doughnuts

      Two things:

      1) There is zero proof of any god's existence, and
      2) If you were really a devout Christian, you would despise Romney for being a heretic.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • truth be told

      Romney is a Mormon not a Christian.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • just sayin

      In theses last days God has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ. The whole of creation declares the signature of God. It was the hand of God that wrote the tablets of the Law that reside in the Ark of the Covenant. If you look you will find God what is critical is that God finds you. God bless

      September 15, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      @just sayin
      Then show us these tablets or even the ark of the covenant for that matter. Outside Indiana Jones movies those things haven't been shown to exist either.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Think about it...

      Obama embodies what Jesus preached, help your fellow man. Romney embodies what Jesus warned against, a false prophet.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • sally

      truth be told / captain america: you are truly an idiot. you may not think a mormon is a christian, but quite a number of other christians think they are christian enough to work closely with them in many ecu'menical ways. I've seen your posts: empty troll crap.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • just sayin

      Word is you are not even a citizen of this country Steve, what is your problem nothing there for you? God bless

      September 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • sally

      oh yeah – i forgot "just sayin" was another one of your idtiot names

      September 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • truth be told

      A couple decades ago Mormon leadership decided to impersonate Christianity to be more acceptable to main stream America. Mormonism was founded as a protest to Christianity and was at times violently opposed to Christianity. Fundamental LDS still hold to those original doctrines. Anyone thinking a Mormon is a Christian does not know Christ or Joseph Smith.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Ting

      In theses last days God has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ

      You've seen him too? I once saw him on a train in Paris. A few years ago, I saw Elvis pumping gas at a convenient store in Memphis.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • jerry in tx

      I hold the same view as "Think about it...". There is nothing good about Romney whatsoever.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      I'm Canadian and never claimed otherwise. What happens in the US effects us directly so I and others of international roots follow closely what happens there. Many of the posters to this belief blog are Canadian or international. Christianity isn't solely American. Religions are worldwide in scope and influence. So whenever their ugly heads pop up and threaten individual freedoms our secular voices will be heard.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • sally

      Yeah – Romney's will soon be back at his old job – being a "bishop". Boo hoo – captain american / truth be told / just sayin / Ronald Regonzo.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      CA: Enjoying your delusions again? Did you know our dollar is above your dollar right now? Why did the asylum let you loose this weekend or was it the blow up doll deflated? This once again is an international website and as your countries closest allies, we will continue to give our well informed opinions...you are not a true American-go back to Islam asshole since freedom of speech bothers you so much!!

      September 15, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • sally

      Yeah, AtheistSteve – "truth be told/ etc. etc." lives in a very small world – mentally, that is. He thinks a lot of things only belong to murica.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  13. SurRy

    So now he's down to Snooki, sleeping naked, pretending to shop wear a Costco shirt and a ginned up campaign about the word God on money. What a pathetic loser.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  14. Master Gunny

    Well its been my experience that people always turn to God as a last resort. Seems like Romney is down to that at this point.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Think about it...

      Yup, next step is an AA meeting.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  15. bookgirl

    The guy's a Mormon. Anyone have any idea what they think God did to create Jesus? Yeah, came down and gave the big one to Mary. Don't believe me? Check it out. These people are sick. His God is a real horn toad.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Ting

      Isn't that immaculate conception? How is this different from what the traditional Christians believe?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Think about it...

      Look up "Lying for the Lord" and "Bleeding the Beast" as it pertains to Mormons. Then ask yourself why Mormons think it is necessary to baptize dead people of OTHER religions, even against the express wishes of their relatives. This is something that Mitt has done, the Mormon church baptized Ann Frank, they have no shame.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  16. AvdBerg

    Mitt Romney’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ but rather in an image of the spirit and god of this world and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency of the United States of America, we invite you to read the articles ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’, ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’ and ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Liberty University, BYU and all other Theological schools and seminaries are the training grounds for false apostles (Mark 13:22). The Gospel of Christ cannot be taught by mankind but can only be revealed by the Spirit of God. For a better understanding of this mystery we invite you to read the article ‘Ye Need Not That Any Man Teach You’ listed on our website.

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  17. Aunt Esther

    Romney increases references to God while the DNC denies God three times before the rooster crows. I'm loving it.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  18. Ed

    Bishop of a Cult? No problem for the right vote, as long as the black guy is out of office.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  19. Ken Robinson

    Respectfully take a seat Mr Romney. You have accomplished great things in you personal life and the american people like/need to know that but you can not represent our nation as prsident. Most of us, as youll see in November, admire you accomplisment and you should not continue to deminish the high regaurd we hold you in for you business accomplishment but you dont seem to understand that the vast majority of us (99%) want someone who puts people before profits. You can say your a cristian but you actions show otherwise. Take a seat and hold onto the dignity and respect you have.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • truth be told

      Mormons aren't Christians.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  20. Drew

    His pandering is shameless. But evangelicals are taught not to question (Been there, left that). Very sad.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • truth be told

      He isn't an evangelical, Mormons are not Christians.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:41 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.