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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.

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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. clark

    When you are on the losing end of the argument inject God into the conversation.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Mention of Hitler will occur soon.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  2. Hillcrester

    Romney is making himself more clownish with each passing day. The GOP is in deep doo-doo, as the smart President Bush once said.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  3. Johnson

    See women veil themselves like in Islam; search “Inside the Prayer Circle” on YouTube. Posted by “Newnamenoah.” Someone finally recorded the bizarre Temple using hidden camera!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  4. o

    Before Romney injects god into the conversation why don't he and his little lying running mate try to be more truthful to the voters. He should start by releasing his tax returns and standing up to the crazy nut jobs (Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and Joe Arpaio to name a few) in his party. Oh he won't because he lacks courage. This man is way beneath the office of the presidency.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  5. Michael Hobart

    I'm sorry, but once again the Republicans are trying to trump up an invented issue. I am afraid that a number of those on the far right are for freedom of religion, but only their religion. That is not freedom of religion. The founding fathers got it right, with the very first thing in the 1st Amendment

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

    We don't have a state religion and we don't stop anyone from worshiping as they wish.

    The founding fathers were much closer in time to the period of the religious wars and were more familiar with the devastation which resulted. They had also seen the problems which had occurred in America when those who had emigrated to obtain freedom to worship had in turn been restrictive of those following different beliefs.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  6. Edward Wilkins

    Seriously? Learn this lesson quick Romney. This is NOT a country founded on religion, but religious freedom. This country isn't Christian, it isn't Islamic, it isn't Sikh, it isn't Mormon or any other religion. This is a country founded as a haven for all the worlds religions to worship freely. That doesn't give you or any other wannabe pulpit preacher the right to try to place your God into our government. Our government should be free of religious as well as corporate influence.

    You won't be elected.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • yogi

      Amen.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  7. 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

    Mitt is making George "The Monkey" Bush look better every day....

    September 15, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  8. lou

    HOLY WAR!!! cries the zealots

    September 15, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  9. Hillcrester

    Maybe it is time for the Dem "independent" organizations to start publicizing what Morman-cultist Romney's religion is all about??

    Desperate, pandering Mittens is playing with fire here. He needs to feel the flames.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  10. Johnson

    For those who wonder about the secret Mormon temple rituals, check out YouTube. Just in the last few weeks, someone with balls secretly recorded many of the rituals for the world to see. This is the stuff that drives the Romney spiritual life, which is part of his every waking moment. Remember, Romney was indoctrinated as a child, thus decisions he will make as President of the United States will driven by inspirations from the Mormon Holy Ghost.

    Search “Inside the Prayer Circle” on YouTube. Posted by “Newnamenoah.”

    September 15, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  11. pastmorm

    Ask a mormon and they will tell you that their god was once a man, just as we are today, and that he (god) was SO good that he eventually became a god himself. THAT is the cornerstone of their faith. In the end, they believe they can become GODS themselves. Now you tell me if that isn't a cult...

    September 15, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Johnson

      Check out the secret Mormon temple rituals on YouTube. Last week, someone secretly recorded many of the rituals for the world to see. This is the stuff that drives the Romney spiritual life, which is part of his every waking moment. Remember, Romney was indoctrinated as a child, thus decisions he will make as President of the United States will driven by inspirations from the Mormon Holy Ghost.

      Search “Inside the Prayer Circle” on YouTube. Posted by “Newnamenoah.”

      September 15, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  12. Elena

    So what if Ronmey wins means I will be forced to believe in his God?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  13. RS, CA

    That's the trouble with some of you libs - you can't believe in anything "higher" than your pitiful little selves! How empty your lives are!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • pastmorm

      RS...if the god you believe in encourages you to attack people and call them names, then I think we're all better off being NON-BELIEVERS!

      September 15, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • midwest rail

      Judgmental nonsense.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Huebert

      I believe in plenty of things greater than my self. Ideals like freedom and justice and altruism, but I do not believe in fairy tales.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Hillcrester

      Predator Romneybain has shown himself to be a classless parasite. His political campaign needs to be exterminated.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Amnesia 101

      Some of us 'libs' do believe in something 'higher' than ourselves: Mine being God. But in what form would you have that? Right now all I see are a bunch of people who are so high up there, they want to 'trickle down' on us. It hasn't worked, so could they come down, please?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • pat carr

      Shutup. Our lives are meaningful enough without people like you. Your life must be very shallow if you have to believe in an invisible man, but don't take your anger out on the rest of us about it

      September 15, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • km

      i'll keep my higher brain functions,thank you...you can let some fairy invented because you were once afraid of thunder think for you.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      sounds like you are being hateful and judgemental RS, and those are big no-nos that will get you a warm afterlife apparently.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  14. ed

    This guy will say anything to be president. UNFIT TO BE COMMANDER IN CHIEF!!@$$WIPE

    September 15, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  15. ralph

    Mitt Romney has proven himself to be unpresidential. He has failed the leadership test of what it takes to be president. He is not fit to be commander in chief. It seems to me he will say or do anything to win. What a disgraceful man!!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  16. Amnesia 101

    To Mitt and all of the other hypocritical Christians, I have a suggestion: I think you should all pray to God that hell is a myth.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  17. jadednomore

    Thought I'd pop over here and see how you guys are covered Obama's behind in his absolutely dismal and DANGEROUS foreign influence. But - as usual you are denying and trying to concentrate on how you hate Romney. Hahaha! You dopes never cease to amaze and make us laugh. So humorous!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Peace

      ????? Are you stupid or something? try pulling your head out of your @$$

      September 15, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  18. Mitt

    I have two things to say: God. Vote for me. Thank you for coming.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  19. Julie

    I don't want a someone that will shove their religion down my throat!!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  20. jadednomore

    Wow - no wonder CNN is crap in the ratings. The CNN-bots are anti-God and love to make fun of people. Probably Obamo-bots most of you also. He is a yellow-bellied idiot, .... your little god is!!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Huebert

      Do you know what a bot is?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Jose

      Please don't feed the troll.

      Thanks.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:57 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.