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. Nikki

    I wonder if Romney clicks his heels once or twice to activate his Mormon Magical Underwear he believes Protects him from evilll. Can Romney put his undies on his head and use them like radar for evil or can he see through walls? Where does the power come from? is it his skidmark that gives his underwear power?????? Lol the cultists have the weirdest things....Magical underwear....whats next Magical buttplugs? one thing is forsure Romney is no christian.....if anything Romney is a weirdo like his cultist Mormon hero Warrren Jeffs who is a fellow magical underwear and panty wearer... Its no wonder that christians denounce Mormons.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Reality


      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As does Biden and Ryan)

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Keeping It Real

      "Lol the cultists have the weirdest things..."

      Yeah, like magic crosses.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  2. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    What with all the secretive money (millions, if not a billion) Robme has access to, it isn't going to be surprising when something major happens! Perhaps riots around the world. Dollar to those people is like $25.00 is to us. Especially if he has someone to pay someone, who pays someone, who pays someone, to pull off such a momentous occassion. The Tail that Wags the Dog! Be prepared!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  3. Jorge

    Mr. Romney may possess a lot of traits that are favorable in a statesman, including his gubernatorial experience, but disclosures about the nature of his financial gains and his convenient, varying postures on different issues make him seem too pandering and self-serving for the presidency of a nation that is in such a critical current state of affairs.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  4. jack

    Desperate men do desperate things.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  5. Reality

    Only for the newcomers:

    One should be voting for leaders who can think rationally. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  6. Michael Wiese

    If you find Gawd, you can be just as rich as Mitt Romney!
    Gawd has been verrrrrrrryyyyyy good to his family. Now look at your broke working @ss. You fools didn't pray enough!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  7. pat

    If the sky is blue this man would try to argue it is green, red or yellow. MR FLIP FLOPPER cannot be trusted.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  8. Jack 21

    Romneys grandpa was ran out of the USA for being a polygamist cultist having 11 wives some as young as 10 years old.Once he arrived in Mexico a Jealous husband at his Mormon commune gunned him down. Yeah this is they type of values we need in our whitehouse right? A man who comes from a cult religion that believes his Mormon Magical Underwear Protects him from evil..............What a weirdo lol

    September 15, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • settino

      Wow! In a nutshell, you said it all!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Keeping It Real


      Yeah, what we need are more magic crosses, eh?

      ("was *ran* out of the country"???– hick)

      September 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  9. Orwell prefers Guyana punch

    Could be death throes from the punch. Did not somebody tell them? drink anything from the garden, but don't drink the punch marked cyanide? In a way I am going to miss the GOP, but they will always have Republistan as their final resting ground.

    “When (Republicans) get nervous about a loss, they go into base-whip-up stage,” Berlinerblau said. “They try to energize the base even more.”

    September 15, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  10. jennifer stratton

    In other words he will cram GOD down our throats? Has he not heard of separation of Church and State? We are not one nation under GOD, we are one nation under GOD, BUDDHA, ALLAH, MOTHER EARTH, etc. Stop forcing your beliefs on others.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  11. zap

    Well, he has to do something to hold the base. No one likes him or his abilities even if bama is weak.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  12. nativesong

    Romneys' god is certainly not my god, so I really don't know what purple elephant he is praying to and calling the "Mighty One".

    September 15, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  13. Roscoe Chait

    I guess Romney has never heard of separation of Church and State. There's a reason for it. Just look at the Middle East–religion makes people insane.

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

      well said!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  14. Math

    If I were to ever dig-up and revive Jefferson, he'd go all thug life on the republican party

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

      Jesse Ventura is the new Thomas Jefferson, and he will go thug life

      September 15, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  15. peter

    The guy is getting desperate...

    September 15, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  16. RS, CA

    @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.
    Huebert, may I suggest that things like freedom, justice, and altruism require faith, just as much as believing in a higher being, whether you call it "god" or not. None of these things are made of "stuff," but rather of "idealism" or "faith." Now, on the other hand, we know nothing about Obama's shaping (colleges, etc.), yet millions "believe" in him. I would say THAT is believing in fairy tales.

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

      You can suggest that believing Ideals requires faith, and I can reject your suggestion. Justice is a cognitive construct, It exist because people choose to pursue it. No god is required for this.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • settino

      RS, people like your self righteous @ss think faith is the answer to all problems. Get a life.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Huebert

      I just realized I said that justice is a cognitive construct. That was a mistake, justice is a social construct, sorry for any confusion.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Who me?

      Columbia and Harvard law.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      "may I suggest that things like freedom, justice, and altruism require faith"

      not religious faith in magic they dont

      September 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  17. Texas

    And at the next event with Muslims in attendance, he shouted Allahu Akbar (God is Great) while asking for their votes and a campaign contribution. Then he went to the AIPAC conference and said that America stands with Israel and that Islamists and Sharia law must be defeated.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      well they already do the whole 'jerusalem' thing to try to get the jewish vote.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Timothy Biddiscombe

      Obama never shouted "allah akbar" in public...where do you nuts get these ideas? Do YOU make them up..or is this more of Limbaugh's propaganda?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  18. infidelio666

    What a lot of people fail to understand is that being POTUS for Romney is merely a short intermediate step in a process that has a much more rewarding final scenario. Since Mormon's believe that a true believer will eventually become a God of some other Universe, Mitt has even more to achieve after simply being President.
    What a wonderful progression: Bain Capital to POTUS to Ruler of a Universe!
    The real question is: How does one behave as a President if Bain Capital is the start of your ascendency and Ruler of a Universe is the ultimate goal?

    That aside, here is another question: If Romney wins the election, does he take his oath of office by placing his hand on the Bible or on The Book of Mormon?

    September 15, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  19. Joe The Plumber

    Another cheap ploy!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  20. lonny

    What does this man stand for? Oh yeah absolutely nothing.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:42 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.