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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. tonyl

    Etch a sketch, flip flop and uncomfortable in his own skin Ro-money Mormon from Cayman Island wants to sell snake oil to the foolish Americans with short memories who are unable to look back just three years to see what caused this nations economy to fall apart and who was in charge to allow the wall streets to rob this nations future and started preemptive wars for financial gains. It was the GOP/Bush/Cheney. The Ro-money man is the true Representative of the same people.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  2. Orwell prefers Guyana punch

    What do you expect a bishop from Kolob to do?

    September 15, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  3. Micky

    Mitt, have you ever heard of the reason why we started this little country of ours? I think one reason had something to do with the separation of church and state. Please do not force your religious beliefs onto others and try to stick to the issues this country is experiencing. What a wing nut!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  4. >O-O

    GOP can do no better. They are washed out, and anyone who thinks they willl 'save America' is beyond reason.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  5. winchester74

    HUMPTY ROMNEY

    Humpty Romney sat on a stump
    Humpty Romney took a big dump
    All the Koch's money
    And all the Fox lies
    Couldn't get Romney's polls to rise

    September 15, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • old ben

      Lol.. love it!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Jorge

      Winchester, yours is truly the finely condensed extract of contemporary factual American political commentary. Kudos.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  6. Jon

    Its pretty easy to go to an Evangelical university in Virginia and say "God, God, God" and get an applause from a bunch of brainwashed religious foot-soldiers. It would be a lot harder if he tried to have a rational conversation or speech in a part of the country that isn't full of religious zealots and backwards thinkers...

    Incidentally, the same people that he is preaching to about his "love for god" don't even consider him to be a Christian, due to his Mormon faith. So, as far as they are concerned, Romney is going to Hell... How do you like them apples?

    September 15, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • gregrustin

      Google "lying for the Lord". and then come back and tell US if it perfectly explains all the "flip/flops"

      September 15, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Jon

      One religion is as phony, hypocritical and destructive as the next. Catholicism (the biggest blight on the world in human history), evangelicalism, Lutherans, Baptists, and so on. Its all nonsensical garbage that should be kept in the privacy of your own home. It has no business being a part of one's political platform.

      I just find the hypocrisy interesting. Christians saying, "Yeah, THAT religion, in which they believe in magic and Jesus and God and special tablets.... that's BS. But OURS is real!"

      September 15, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  7. tony

    God told him to hide his holy ten tax returns.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Huebert

      He keeps them with the golden plates.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • gregrustin

      mormons are taught to "lie fr the lord" to achieve the greater good. google it. it really explains all the flip/flops perfectly.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  8. tony

    Since the whole public Republican Agenda is a huge lie, adding gods into the mix, hardly makes much difference.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  9. GOPGOANDWIN

    I too am a Republican, always have been, always will be and I will NEVER vote for Romney. He and his religion are based on nothing but man-made ideas. His Book of Mormon was written by two crooks and his church is nothing but a tax free corporation. Basically he belongs to a cult; he's not a Christian.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Ting

      He and his religion are based on nothing but man-made ideas

      Now that's funny...If only Mitt was a "real" Christian and followed the only true religion that is based on facts.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Michelle

      I have to agree with you. Republicans have tried to make a vilian out of Obama who is a Christian and support a man who is not. You may not agree with his positions on things, but I trust God to show him. I can't trust Joseph Smith or whoever it is who started Mormonism to show Romney anything.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • ME II

      Thank you for not voting.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • gregrustin

      I dont care about his religion, but the principle of "lying for the lord" which they teach is quite disturbing. it really explains why Romney flip/flops constantly. it is a versions of the "ends justifies the means"

      September 15, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • michael

      And that's what I don't understand; most evangelicals actually consider Mormonism a cult, and yet they hate Obama so much they're willing to ignore Christian doctrine and vote for a man whose church they consider a cult. What's up with that?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Huebert

      If Romney were an avowed atheist I would still oppose him. His tax policy and budgetary plans are sufficient reason for me to vote for Obama.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  10. blvd

    God doesn't even exist. I don't want someone that old that still has an imaginary friend running this country.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  11. dman419

    Mitt Forgot to mention that when he says "God" he means a man that lives on the planet "Golob"

    September 15, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • pastmorm

      I don't mean to be rude in correcting you, but the planet that you're speaking of is actually "Kolob."

      September 15, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Michael Johnson

      It's Kolob.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Ting

      As opposed to the true Christian god who lives in a cloud hovering somewhere over the Rockies.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  12. macbil

    just ask Mormans to describe God and heaven and it gets really weird for mainstream protestant Christians like me.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • UncleM

      Just ask Christians to explain their cannibalistic death cult and it gets pretty weird for mainstream atheists like me.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  13. iaver

    Actions speak louder. The point of his declaration of faith in God is purely political and serves no other purpose. As this article implies Mr. Romney is trying to distguish himself from that of the President by turning faith into a contest. I find it appauling that Mr. Romney, for the sole purpose of stirring the emotions of his base, has used God and his belief as a political tactic with rhetoric that can have dangerous implications. A line can easily be draw between pride in ones faith and what is being done here. This shows, to me, that his intentions are to mislead the American public by any means necessary. Further, his timing is dangerous. He should be more responsible with the language he chooses to use in a time where it can be easliy miscontrued to mean that he encourages any ant-muslim sentaments or any "anti-" religious belief that is not his own. Our country was built on some notion of inclusivity to those who hold in the same values of America.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    Romney is an American Muhammad.

    Romney believes the God had se-xual intercourse with Mary in order to produce Jesus. Ain't he more delusional than Muhammad who only said that Allah created Jesus in the womb of Mary (of course, also Muhammad's statement is wrong although it isn't as ridiculuous as the LDS doctrine)?

    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 11:29 am |
    • >-O

      Rainer
      "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."
      i believe the later. Satan can appear to someone and present himself as an angel of light. He did it to Joseph Smith too!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @>-O

      Am I allowed to ask you, which church you belong to?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • >O

      Rainer, I went to many earthly temples, found God's people in most of them. I don't belong to any of them, nor any groups of Christians, only to Christ's Body of believers who are born of His Spirit. We have our own Bible studies at home. God has set us aside so that He would teach us. Here In U.S. are so many churches, and so many shades of teachings, that God had to practically set us aside and keep our ears from being clogged up by man's teachings, so that we would be able to hear Him. We know that it is not the will of God to isolate and separate His people, but we don't live in ordinary times. God is preparing His people to fulfill the Scriptures in Ephesians 4, particularly the verse 17. We ar very near to seeing many of the prophecies of the Scriptures being fulfilled before our eyes.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  15. Moses

    Pathetic...pimping the Almighty won't win you any votes where it really counts, Mittens.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  16. gop usa

    I am a Republican and I will not sell out my christian faith to support a Mormon cultist.No matter how Mormons try to spin it they are sicko cultists and are NOT CHRISTIAN.....there are no crosses on their church,no bible,wears Magical underwear or pantys.......weirdo rituals,polygamy,sisterwives......molestation of women and children and the abuse of women and children to make sure they keep it all secret. Mormons are just as bad a Johovas whitnesses or heavens gate cult...Satan worshippers.......but NOT CHRISTIAN and many conservative christian repubs will not support such a vile man like Romney we will stay home in November...Just what we need is a man in the whitehouse who thinks his skidmarked underwear has magical powers and will protect him from evil...........Will he confront Iran with his undies tightly clinched between his buttcheeks while he clicks his heels ? Will his powers of the allmighty skidmark help him protect us??? Does Romney wear his wifs Magical pantys??? We will never know folks..But what we do know is Romney is definately a weirdo and should never step into the whitehouse with his possesed cult magical underwear....Next thing we will be seeing is Romney making Magical Underwear standard issue for the Military......because who needs body armor to protect you from bullets when you have Mormon magical skidmarked cultist underwear just like Mitt wears to protect you!!!!!! Romney is a weirdo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • sb

      gop usa......i am a mormon & i am a woman, women of the church are NOT abused. you sound like one of these people who's an expert on the mormon faith & how we live our lives, yet you've probably never visited a church just to see for yourself that we are not what people make us out to be. it kills me how people say we are not christian's like they are, they say very mean,hurtful things about our faith. "Christian's" do not degrade or make fun of any religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Portland tony

      You should get over the underwear bit and all the silly rhetoric concerning it. Mitt Romney is an honorable man who is running for political office. If it's policies you disagree with say so. I personally fundamentally disagree with his choice of religious zealots he associates with. In addition, I'm
      not ready for his choice of foreign
      policy advisors either. That's why I oppose his candidacy. I could care less about his undergarments. You shouldn't either!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  17. >O

    Jerry Falwell would turn over in his grave if he knew who is standing there talking big, swelling words. Or would he?
    (reffering to the picture)

    September 15, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • ME II

      Isn't he turning over in his grave because Jesus didn't show up within a decade?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  18. Tryingtounderstand

    Pandering to the lowest common denominator sadly gets votes but it also exposes the panderer for what he is.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  19. gmenfan54

    Even God says Mitt Romney was a mistake.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  20. adam

    Romney will soon say, God has forgiven him , and so should Americans.

    Romney will say God told him to Cheat on his taxes.

    Romney will say USA will suffer the wrath of God unless Americans Vote for him.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:25 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.