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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.

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. Leeroy

    I almost forgot I was on CNN. There is nothing wrong with what Romney is saying and doing. But keep trying to find fault if that is what makes you feel good.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • JoJo

      There may be nothing wrong with what he's SAYing but there is in what this greedy, war-lover is DOING, i.e., he's the kind of religious hypocrite Jesus condemned.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • risky

      There are many things wrong with what he says. If you believe in separation of church and state; one should not influence the other. If we were to ever get a President that made decisions based on religious belief, it would set us back a couple of centuries...

      September 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Snow

      Right.. lets bring god into every aspect of life.. into the schools, into the governence and into workplaces.. and lets bid bye-bye to the first amendment.. right?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Leeroy

      I guess we should stick with Obama, with his strong religious faith in Rev. Wright and his type of religion? Please.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Leeroy, you're funny. As if Romney is less an azzhole than Rev. Wright. Are you delusional or stupid? Or both?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Calling names. Wow. I gave that up in Kindergarten.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Boo-hoo. Don't like being called a moron? Don't act like one.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If after Romney's complete FAIL on foreign policy this week you still think he's the best choice, LEEroy, you just go right ahead and vote for him. I won't. Neither will anyone else with a brain.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Leeroy

      I got your "moron" right here. Meet you out back in 5 minutes and I'll show it to you. Punk.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Leeroy

      When you go to the polls . . . know I will be cancelling your vote with mine for Romney. 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Aww, gee, what tragedy. Too bad my spouse, my kids, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law and THEIR three kids are all voting Democrat, LEEroy.

      Rev. Wright? Are you stuck in 2007?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Leeroy

      I have 7 kids . . . 5 of voting age . . . and a great many Church going friends who will trump you small clan. 😛 Gotchu Royal! I win. 😛

      September 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure, honey. Whatever you say.

      Suck your thumb if it makes you feel better. It's okay; I won't tell your mom.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Who you calling Honey? I gotchur honey, buddy . . . out back. ;P

      September 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Dear, I'm a woman. You'd know that if you'd ever bothered to read here. You're an idiot.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Sorry Ma'am. I would never hit a woman . . . unless she was pointing an AK or PPG at me. 😉 I'll let my wife or one of my 5 daughters take you out back instead. 😉 My 9 year old will probably do. She's beating boys arm wrestling on the bus. 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ah. So she's a dy-ke in training, then. Good on her.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      Watching Romney display his faults in technicolor gives me great hope that President Obama will be re-elected. To that purpose, I intend to continue to point out the failings of Mr. Romney and the mismatch between him and the presidency. Thank you.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're full of gas, LEEroy. Too bad you're also full of sh!t.

      If all you have is Rev. Wright, dearie, you're pretty lame as far as arguments go.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • old ben

      Tom – is there a quicker way to get back to an older article other than cnn's search? maybe i'm just missing it. I just posted a reply in the one for case for gay marriage, but the link is out of sight again.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Let's have this conversation again after the debates starting on October 3rd. That should be entertaining. 🙂 Have you any other colorful words to call me before I find something better to do tonight?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • old ben

      Oh and you are so right Tom about Romney's complete FAIL on foreign policy. I should say what foreign policy. lol.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not that I know of ben. Other than scrolling across the top pictures; that might be faster.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, run along LEEroy, dear. I have plenty of words to describe you, but my creativity is wasted on a dumbbell who thinks he can pretend that he actually knew "morale" wasn't the same as "moral" and that he had a clue what anyone else's morals were based on their posts.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • old ben

      Cool that works – I've never tried moving the pics. Thanks, Tom! OK, back to my Romney tax watch. 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  2. risky

    Mitt Romney will increase military spending (even though USA spends 5 times more than china on military). His reasoning for this is to show the world not to mess with us.

    Sounds like fear tactics and paranoia to me.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Sounds like I'll get another raise to defend your liberal rear some more. 🙂

      September 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, gee, LEEroy, where exactly are you stationed, that you're 'defending' anyone's azz other than your own?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Why, did you want to come and visit me and my lovely family? We can take you to Church with us. 🙂 I'm in the Army Reserves. I've done two tours thus far. Looks like there may be more opportunities to serve in the near future. But perhaps you're okay with our Embassies being attacked and our Ambassador's being tortured and killed? 🙁

      September 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oooh, the RESERVES!!!!

      How impressive.

      Get a clue, LEEroy. I have relatives who have served in active duty. NOT the reserves.

      Let me know when you figure out how to find your balls.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Leeroy

      I have 14.75 years active duty and another 13 in the Reserves or Guard. I see you like insulting service members who are willing to give our all for sorry people like you. You represent the Democrats just as most do. Thanks for making my point about you and Obama crystal clear. Your patriotism . . . or lack there of . . . is very unfortunate. But I'll continue to fight for you. Enjoy your social freebies a little longer. 😉

      September 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  3. BrightGeorge

    Re Graf 5: Mr. Romney, we were "one nation indivisible" for much longer than we've been "one nation under god" That phrase wasn't inserted into the pledge of allegiance until the Red Scare of the 1950's. Does that make Americans prior to that time (including our founding fathers) less patriotic?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • SoooooTiredoftheNonsense...

      Really wish there was a "like" button here...this is SPOT ON...we forget those scary times so easily....

      September 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Mon Dieu!

      That's the same time "In God We Trust" was put on paper money, mostly to poke a finger at those "godless commies". The Extreme Reich still can't come to grips with the fact that we managed to survive 180 years without the motto. It always seemed to me that if God is more concerned about His/Her name being written on little pieces of paper than being in people's hearts and minds, there's a cosmic disconnect somewhere.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  4. Portland tony

    We've got enough self proclaimed disciples around, what we need are leaders!

    September 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  5. Pha Q

    I believe the Bible says in the 10 Commandments, Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness. Among Mormons/Christians; et.al....Romney/Ryan they'll worry about that later. Does it say somewhere in the Bible that's its Ok to lie to the infidels?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Who asked Bill Clinton to introduce him? Bill Clinton? Impeached . . . Barred . . . womanizer . . . liar? Wow. A disbarred lawyer representing his guilty client. Perfect . . .

      September 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Keep wishing anyone cares, Leeroy. Clinton has star power Romney can't even hope to imitate.

      Nobody gives two craps about his sins. Nobody.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Nobody with any morale values. You're so right. And this country will elect their choice . . . and if it's Obama . . . we shall see how hosed up this country can get.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you even know the difference between the words "moral" and "morale", LEEroy?

      Apparently not. Telling.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Typo. Moral. I'll put it in a sentence for you. You're bringing down my morale with your absent morals. 😉

      September 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And what would you be as suming about my morals, LEE roy?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  6. SoooooTiredoftheNonsense...

    If he is going to try to appease the Fundamentalist Right, we will be no better off than the nut jobs that are jumping up and down, blowing things up because THEIR God got insulted. Fundamentalists, no matter WHAT the religion, are NUTS! They have NO business running anything and they really need to just go back into their caves and let the rest of us be...Faith is a wonderful thing, but it is PRIVATE. Your religion is not mine, mine is not yours. We co-exist peacefully and one side is not right, nor the other wrong. WHY is he pandering to the Nuts on the right? WHY???? Honestly, in doing this, he is alienating me and giving me no choice but to vote for the other team...Well, that and that pesky invasion of my rights as a woman...oh, right and that gosh darned tax on the "middle" class – did ya hear what he considers middle class, btw??? Google it. It's worth a chuckle...

    September 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      Well said, thank you very much.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  7. cajaw

    The Romney campaign is becoming quite a sham. The separation of religion and state is absolute! Mittens acts of quiet desperation are becoming more and more common as time goes by. Obama/Biden 2012 in a major landslide is becoming more realistic daily. Honestly, who could vote for this man. Even his version of Christianity is tainted!

    September 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  8. IslandAtheist

    Great! let's have NASA find the planet Kolob so we can send Romney there.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • just in

      That too funny

      September 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • just in

      That's too funny

      September 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  9. Jacob

    Romney is going to bring back the morales standards that America was raised on. Prayed in school, prayer at work and the laws should also coinside with the church. Everyone should go to church and woman should be at home raising the children while the men work. We need to get our moral roots back in this country again and Romeny is the man to do it.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • JoJo

      The only people Jesus couldn't suffer were religious hypocrites. Jesus knew actual morality had nothing to do with outward shows of religiousity.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • norman

      nope

      September 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • kutulhu

      We don't need prayer at school or at work, nor should women be restricted to the kitchen. You are talking about a theocracy.

      If you actually believe what you wrote, and are not trolling, you are EXACTLY what is wrong with this country.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Snow

      haha.. good one, jacob..

      wait, this is sarcasm, right? right?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      Your vision is my personal view of hell on earth.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      Snow, judging by his atrocious English, this guy isn't joking, he's really that dumb.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • SoooooTiredoftheNonsense...

      Just....wow....

      September 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  10. sdl

    Of course, when Romney speaks about God, most Christians don't realize that Romney's idea of God isn't the same as theirs. His god is ruler of this planet. Romney, as a good Mormon, will get his own planet to rule when he dies.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  11. sparky

    Public religiosity - the new last refuge of the scoundrel.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      Totally true.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  12. Solitairedog

    You can fool some of the people, some of the time. By the time Romney is done with this election, he'll declare himself an ordained minister.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  13. sherman

    Romney is yesterday's politician and we deserve so much better. Really.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  14. JoJo

    Any chickenhawk like Romney who supports an unnecessary war like in Iraq which the Vatican and many Christian and Jewish leaders say violated Just War Criteria, and then tries to convince us he has a superior belief in the "Prince of Peace", is a religious hypocrite in my opinion.
    "Blessed are the peacemakers." "It is harder for a rich man to get into Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle". Jesus

    September 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  15. Snow

    A president who does not like in the first amendment of this const.itution.. the very FIRST amendment.. Great choice to lead the country if he is elected.. eh..

    Besides, he just said he will bring god front and center.. but does not say which god.. be prepared to have mormon faith as the official religion of the USA.. great times ahead, eh!

    September 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      Which god? Are you a pagan? Do you think there is a plethora of gods from which to choose?

      September 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Snow

      after so long here, if you really do not know the answer for your question, you really reaaaally need to read a bit more about christan and mormon definitions of god.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      Well, Snow, I know that each religion is monotheistic, so the difference lies in their view of what the one god wants of us. Perhaps I will do a little more checking into the Mormon view though I was hoping to avoid all such stuff and nonsense for the election, as I think a person's religion should be a private matter. Since Romney is choosing to make it a public political issue, I guess ... well, I'll start with the posting of Maher's definition and move on to a few more. Shoot. Darn. Ugh. Most unpleasant duty.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  16. phearis

    hmmmmmm me thinks that Rmoney should do a little research on Thomas Jefferson.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      It is, particularly in recent years, the tactic of Republicans to simply disregard any fact that isn't consistent with a position, and to make up other "facts" when needed. Religion already assails facts, why not go ahead and make it a Republican technique as well? So the assumption more research is needed should likely be changed to an assumption he knows plenty about Jefferson but is either disregarding facts or has made up whatever other "fact" helps support his statement.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  17. butch

    we really need someone better than obama in the white house. it really sucks that this guy isn't him.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • phearis

      Why settle for the lesser of two evils? Vote Saxon 2012!

      September 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  18. Steve S

    Pandering to the Christian Fundamentalists is a rite of passage for any GOP Presidential candidate now days.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • LivingHistory

      It always amazes me how the Christian right will fall for the politicians promises again and again. First Reagan let them down, then Bush II. They always end up disappointed and saying never again, yet the minute a politician tells them that they will turn back the clock (prayer in school, the end of Roe V. Wade, etc) they fall right back in line.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  19. FedUp2

    I'd love to hear more about his faith. It's fascinating and not many people seem to know much about the real beliefs Mormons share, or how much they differ from traditional christianity. It's especially interesting to learn all about how the entire religion is actually a bonafide corporation that exploits tax exemption, and how that enriches the elite few millionaires in their ranks so.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • bananaspy

      If you have questions about Mormonism, use Google. I mean seriously, anything you'd ever need to know about any religion is posted somewhere on the internet. While you're at it, look up who Joseph Smith was, look up how God spoke to him, look at the ideas presented by him. If it looks like anything but a con to you, I'll be disheartened.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • bananaspy

      Lol sorry, nevermind. I apparently missed the second half of your comment; I see you were not actually seeking information on Mormonism. I still offer this advice to anyone who is though.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • End Religion

      one viewpoint...
      http://youtu.be/KN4M8PvpmW4

      September 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      another viewpoint....
      http://youtu.be/aKqqGX0DEMM

      September 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  20. golubchik

    he and his cohorts are probably still rejoicing and scrambling to turn death of americans in libya to their advantage

    September 14, 2012 at 7:16 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.