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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. Rosslaw

    And the United States will set up a gigantic, state of the art telecommunications system to talk to Jesus on the planet Kolob. Can't wait.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  2. WhatNext

    Who would Jesus vote for.....

    September 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Debbie

      He wouldn't.....

      September 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  3. Aezel

    More desperate shameless pandering. He's done and he knows it. Buh-bye Mittens!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  4. Randal Allen

    If I voted for obama in 2008 and I don't vote for him this year, will I be considered a racist?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Nope – that's just a cutesy political meme from the right wing. No basis in reality, but it makes a good bumper sticker.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • 2357

      Did you vote for the man, or did you vote for the color of his skin?

      September 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  5. oneSTARman

    I guess the Head of the Church Corporate got a call from the Guy on Kolob that Jesus and Lucifer (and ALL the OTHER Mormon gods in waiting like Romney) wanted more ME Time.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  6. Rudedog

    Mitt is right, only God can help his campaign.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  7. AZGuy99

    To all the Christians – if you are a true believer than you must accept Romney is a Blasphemer. He worships a false idol (Joseph Smith) in the name of God. The bible is very clear on this. Jesus himself warns many will falsely come in His name to lead the flock astray. Romney was a leader of his church – a church that views Jesus as just a man, just a PART of the system of salvation. Joseph Smith is an equal part of that system and thus an equal to Jesus in their eyes. When Romney says he believes in Jesus – he is not technically lying.... BUT the Jesus he "believes" in is considered just a prophet – the same as Joseph Smith. Romney's Jesus is not God and he is NOT the only way to salvation. Beware – to follow Romney is to follow a path away from Jesus as your lord. Although he invokes God more and more, his God your God. Again the Bible is clear that false prophets will employ just such methodology to lead people away.

    Brigham Young said of Joseph Smith:

    “No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith...He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity and calling, as God does in heaven.”

    “I am an Apostle of Joseph Smith...all who reject my testimony will go to hell.”

    I will now give you my scripture...Whosoever confesseth that Joseph Smith was sent of God...that spirit is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that God sent Joseph Smith...is anti-Christ.”

    (Journal of Discourses, Vol.14, p 203; vol.7, p 289; vol.8, p 176)

    September 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      AZGuy,

      "Jesus himself warns many will falsely come in His name to lead the flock astray."

      No, a few first century evangelists *said* that he said that. Nobody knows what he actually said (nor for sure that he existed as portrayed).

      For an omniscient "God", this Jesus sure left poor evidence. The most earth-shaking presence since the beginning of time, and he left that ambiguous, easily misunderstood, mistranslated, misinterpreted and misused piece of propaganda?!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  8. Itsonlyme

    Unfortunately Mitt, god not only doesn't exist, he doesn't vote...

    September 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      Itsonlyme, but the Believers *do* exist. Romney knows which side his bread is buttered on (in addition to being delusional).

      September 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  9. Jude

    if this fool did not have all that $$$$$...absolutely no one would listen to anything coming out of his mouth...like fool palin...puppets of $$$ and because of their looks we are all forced to have them in the public eye and ear. disgusting state for our country. gop have some real stinkers. no one is buying it anymore.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  10. relians

    god corporations and government...the stuff that fascists are made of

    September 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  11. Debbie

    If Romney feels the need to use God to convince others of his faith in political speeches, who is he really trying to convince? Or is he boasting?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • 2357

      He's trying to get more $upport from non_mormon christians like baptists methodists presbyterians and pentecostals. Their support is lukewarm because he could turn out to be a puppet shister.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  12. TheMagusNYC

    Nothing need be written about strange practices of the various religious traditions. Just note that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses consider Christ to be a created spirit being with some roll in our salvation, though still relying upon works, unlike Christian concept of being saved by grace alone.
    All are sincere responses to Scripture, and those lacking faith have no claim to intellectual superiority.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Kate

      It's one thing to talk about God and how important your faith is to you. It's quite another thing to show your goodness by doing the things Jesus taught. I'm speaking of love, caring, and compassion for others. Neither Mitt Romney, the Tea Baggers, or the Republican Party is showing any of these qualities these days. As my late mother would have said....they are all talk and no action. So, yes, even if Mitt thinks he and Ann will one day rule over their very own planet and fill it up with spirit children, I could care less. I do care, however, about how well Republican policies will effect American lives here on earth. It doesn't look good. I'm voting for Obama.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  13. asm_ith

    Pretty disgusting but not very surprising. When Romney says he won't take God out of the platform, he must not have listened to anything from the DNC convention that Obama put God back into the Democratic platform. But just as with the current foreign affairs issues, Romney isn't concerned with facts. It's one thing for politicians to shade things; both sides do it, and both sides even lie to some extent. But the Romney campaign has taken things to new limits, right from the beginning when they made it seem like Obama was saying that he would lose if the election was about the economy, when it was actually Obama quoting McCain in the 2008. Romney is so anxious to be President that he is acting the way we expect of an arrogant vulture CEO; "play" is probably the wrong way to put it, since it is more likely showing his true colors.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • TheMagusNYC

      So let's back up this idle chatter with contributions to the Obama campaign, to counter the PACs.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  14. Hey

    Mitt....shut the hell up!

    September 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Duh

      Ditto – shut your pie hole Mitt.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  15. The Anti-Romney

    But what if I'm not a idol worshipping false god toting gun loving idiot who pulls scripture from a hat?

    What am I to do?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • evan

      Hey Mitt, I thought you were worried about the economy? You look funny in that robe... even funnier, you are MORMON!!!! Your scripture isn't even in the same century as that of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim scripture. You are certainly a man of YOUR god

      September 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  16. scatheist

    That's phoney even for Romney.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  17. 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???????///

    September 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • The Anti-Romney

      Um, they phuck thru a hole in a sheet.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Acdsasf

      It is odd that you don't hear the "real" Christians mentioning the word cult anymore.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  18. felix el gato

    Like all Republicans, Romney loves God and hates the working class.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ME II

      Does that mean that Obama hate anyone who isn't on the dole?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Christian

    GOOD
    BECAUSE ALL THIS TALK FROM OBAMMY ABOUT HIS FELLOW MUSLIMS IS GETTIN OLD

    September 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      so it the claim that he is a muslim

      September 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • ME II

      ... and using all caps

      September 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Dan

      President Obama is a Christian. The difference between him and you is that he has a brain, and doesn't try to cram his religion down your throat like Romney does.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Pastapharian

      Dan: excellent point. Well said!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • david esmay

      Romney, to paraphrase George Carlin, is desperately taking the last refuge of a man with no answers, no argument, and no clue.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Marion

      Next thing we will hear from Romney is that Fox News polled God and He is going to vote for Romney.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Logic hurts

      Too bad he is likely an atheist....Keep thinking your insanely delusional thoughts.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • evan

      CAPS MAKE ME RIGHT!!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Christian: Watching too much FAUX news? Not sure how you missed the part on CNN where it has been proven time and time again that Obama is a christian!!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  20. Primewonk

    “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,”

    Funny. I could have swore Romeny went to law school. And don't most law schools have you take a couple courses on the constîtution? I wonder why Romney didn't learn about Article VI, Section 3?

    September 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
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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.