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. Rainer Braendlein

    I think the Islamic issue is more relevant at the moment than Romney.

    I have watched the certain video, and must say that it is not completely unhistorical. Muhammad was not perfect, ineed. Yet, maybe, it is somewhat unwise to provoke the Muslims by such a video (however, I don't think that the producer should be punished for his video for the sake of religious freedom and freedom of expression; it must be possible to criticise sharply a religion, especially the Islam ,which has caused a lot of sorrow, suffering and bloodshed in the course of history).

    It is only that we should not stress too much the fact that Muhammad was a womanizer because even Western leaders or princes had a preference for women.

    I myself don't hate any Muslim or any Muslim country, I only reject the Islam as a doctrine. According to the will of the good being which has created us we shall love each other independent from distinct belief, nationality, color. social status and the like. Please keep in mind this when you read my following lines, and let us love the ordinary Muslims as victims of evil seducers:

    One of the greatest errors of Muhammad was that he regarded it as legitimate to spread and defend his self-made, non-divine religion using the sword. Jihad or Islamic Holy War belongs to the core tenets of genuine Islam, and any honest man or historian will not deny that. Muhammad was a warlord and it is possible that he invented the Islam only in order to unite the ancient, single Arabic tribes or gangs for a war against the Christian Empire Byzantium (Eastern Roman Empire). It is also possible that Muhammad was obsessed by a demon and really believed the moronic things which he teached.

    In contrast the Christian doctrine or faith rejects any violence as a mean to spread or defend the faith. A Christian or Christian leader shall only fight by using words but not any physical weapon. The crusades were conducted by the moronic popes (the current one is called Benedict XVI), and have nothing to do with genuine Christianity. Catholicism or papalism is anti-Christian just as Islam.

    The Muslims should not be set up too much about the video because it contains some histrorical truth: Muhammad was indeed violent and a lover of the women, everybody knows that.

    It is only that a Christian should maybe not stress too much the errors of Islam or Muhammad when he approaches the Muslims but more emphasize the good message of the gospel (regretably yet this can enrage the Muslims).

    The basic Christian message is that Jesus Christ or Jesus from Nazareth was not only a (Jewish) man but man and God at the same time. In his unholy Koran Muhammad reduces Jesus Christ to a mere human being, even if an Islamic (!) prophet, which is like saying Mister Obama would only be a frog or a bug. I guess, nobody of us would like to be called a bug or a frog, and hence we should not call Jesus Christ only a prophet but God or the Son of God, a person of the Holy Trinity.

    As far as I know there is no reliable historical docu-ment which accuses Jesus Christ of any sin or any wrongdoing. Jesus Christ indeed lived a holy life, which cannot be imitated by any mere human being. Jesus Christ had got the full divine power of holiness, he had got the Holy Spirit of the eternal God without measure (any Christian has only gifts of the Holy Spirit but not the Spirit in fullness).

    I myself love the women and hate my fellow human beings like Muhammad, it is only that this longing and misbehaviour is dampened through the Holy Spirit of God which I received through faith and sacramental baptism, and this is what I wish for every Muslim that he gets to know the releasing power of Jesus' death and resurrection: Jesus, God's Son, has borne our sins when he died for us on the cross, and has resurrected for the sake of our justification. Dear Muslim, believe that and get baptized, and God will make you better than Muhammad or me.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • AvdBerg

      Rainer Braendlein

      For a better understanding of the history of Islam and the Middle East we invite you to read the articles ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’, ‘Clash of Civilizations’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

      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 10:46 am |
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      While I have never met Jesus of Nazareth, i have met Jesus Garcia from East Los Angeles. And Mr. Garcia is a friend of mine!

      September 15, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  2. Peter Wolfe

    Doesn't this remind everybody of the last time that Mr Romney a.k.a money bags employed this tactic in 08? He lost like The Real Romney book 2011 of Boston Globe reports his own advisors not to use God as much but he hasn't learned like his myth of trickle down economics hasn't fully worked out either. Keep in mind that the U.S is an ceremonial deist nation using God as a united voice for questions unanswered and to justify the opression of the masses by current limits in technology and science is all God is useful for in my opinion. Lastly, if were God were real could he please give me back my eyesight because till then he is a childish figment of my own and your imagination.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      Dear Peter, there are plenty of "blind" and pitifully stupid people who have better than 20/20 visual perception. Consider being grateful for not being in their number. The author John Milton the author of "Paradise Lost" was blind, and Beethoven was deaf and Steven hawking can barely communicate, but all have profoundly influenced and changed all our lives. If you have a blog, I would like to read it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  3. Ima Mused

    Good Lord, he'll be offering sacrifices and burnt offerings soon.....

    September 15, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Lord Golob from Kolob

      Nah, that's for Christians. We rarely do that stuff.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  4. Lord Golob from Kolob

    Mittens will need to wash his magic underwear if he continues this losing trend.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  5. Karrie123

    Every time he mentions God, I wonder which one he's talking about. Jesus, Jehovah, Allah? I guess keeping it generic is supposed to appeal to everybody. And what's that magic underwear all about?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Lord Golob from Kolob

      Magic underwear is invisible. You might think he is going commando and rich emporer Mitt has no clothes, but you must believe.
      If you do not, you will never visit our planet where everything is peanuts. Peanuts peanuts peanuts and to heck with Jimmy Carter who devalued our currency.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  6. jeepguy6

    A desperate attempt by a desperate fool. This will only chase away voters and increase Obama's lead. Romney is showing he cannot remain cool under pressure.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Lord Golob from Kolob

      Kolob is cool. It is very far from the sun.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  7. John

    Up until now I had not given Romney's faith a second thought. But now that he is increasing his religious rhetoric perhaps we should. The Mormon church's central hierarchy in Salt Lake City has a strong influence on the Mormon faithful around the world. Since Romney is bringing God and religion into the presidential dialogue perhaps it is fair and appropriate for the media to question what impact the Morman church's strong central hierarchy in salt lake city might have on a President Romney.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  8. Anon Man 1307 -- Being Real

    I bet Mittzy is praying for divine intervention and forgiveness for all the lies he is telling, so that he would have a real chance. Not going to happen. If we are to truly have a separation of Church and State, he need to try and stand on his own two feet and face the music for his lies.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  9. RMoney

    Romney is obviously getting desperate, but the gap is widening and it is now nearly certain that he will lose the election.

    Short the stock of public magic underwear manufacturers and book of mormon printers.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  10. TXJew

    SO Romney's base is now in doubt? Because pumping up the God talk isn't going to expand his appeal very much beyond the people already inclined to vote for him.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  11. Hipochracy_at_its_best.

    Dear Republicans,

    As fellow Americans we would love to support you in 2016, maybe in 2020. But this year you refuse to listen to the vast mayority and chose to let the bigots and fascists toe-the-line in your party. Please produce a real candidate next time and clean your party from the garbage. We can provide you with a very solid list of good awsome republicans that have real good intentions for our country. Not Romney.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  12. 21k

    so now we will be reduced to politicians proclaiming "god willing! as they send our troops to war. like all the mid-east tin-pot dictators do. oh, for x sake.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  13. Thomas

    Which God is that though Romney – is it the one from the planet Kolob?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  14. bettyboop33

    hmmmm......"It is easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle...than it is for a rich man to go to heaven".....Mittens please....stop with the "God" rhetoric....YOU do NOT have a snow balls chance in hell...boop boop dee doop!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  15. AvdBerg

    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 (Gal. 1:12). 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 http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    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.

    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 10:18 am |

      Every time you feed it, god kills a puppy.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • AvdBerg


      But the natural man (like yourself) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor. 2:14,15).

      For this reason our message remains the same: Ye must repent in order to be able to understand the Word of God, including the Book of Revelation. We have provided the article ‘Repent’ on our website for your perusal.


      September 15, 2012 at 10:25 am |

      I've read your blog before. It is poorly written and unconvincing.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • AvdBerg


      As we keep repeating: unless you repent you cannot know them and you will remain spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14).

      September 15, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  16. buckshot

    What we need is a president that leaves the religious crrap at home, not at work.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • TSB8C

      No moral footing is why we're in the mess we're in now. A belief system centered around "I am just another more highly evolved animal who can do whatever I want" is the root cause of our problems.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • End Religion

      what we need is a president who can rise above religion. He shouldn't have it at home or work. He should be smart enough to understand it is all a lie, and brave enough to say so.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Ting

      They have to perform for the audience at hand. And that is what it is, a performance.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      you dont need religion to have morals. The idea that the non religious think they they can do what they like because we are all animals is just plain wrong.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Huebert

      Morality and ethics do not have to come from religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • End Religion

      @TSB8C: The age old "atheists have no morals" argument. You have no proof to verify your empty claim. Don't bother jumping to your stock world leaders as reference, its all been refuted. What facts do exist, is that religious people claim to receive morals from their various religious texts which are quite easily shown to be brutal in their morality. Killing people who work on Sunday? Selling one's own daughter into slavery? Terrorizing those who simply disagree? These are what you propose are "good" to base our morals on?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Anon Man 1307 -- Being Real


      No moral footing is why we're in the mess we're in now. A belief system centered around "I am just another more highly evolved animal who can do whatever I want" is the root cause of our problems."

      Incorrect, having a belief system in place that will 'forgive' you, no matter what you do, is the root cause of the problems. They no long have to face the consequences for their actions, if they believe that 'all will be forgiven' in the end.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  17. dina

    Pandering, pandering to the right wing religious voters. He has no place he won't go for a vote.I am not doubting that he is religious, but why is he now becoming more religious but to get that needed religious vote.This man has no idea who he is.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  18. 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 10:14 am |
  19. Martin

    Will he use his magic underwear while in office? Someone needs to tell him those skid marks aren't magic.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  20. CarrotCakeMan

    Hilarious! Normally, a right-wing GOP candidate for president will move to the center at this point in a campaign. Clearly, Willard knows his base is turned off, and hopes this will excite them.

    It won't. Willard is toast.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      agreed, you would think the gop would usually have the evangelical lot in the bag and wouldnt need to appeal to them but apparently they do.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • End Religion

      all romney base are belong to us

      September 15, 2012 at 10:19 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.