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????????

    September 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  2. Larry

    " Cryin won't help ya, Prayin won't do you no good" Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy Does Romney want God to work the phones?

    September 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  3. Mormon Magical Underwear

    Step right up folks Step right up!!!!!! Romney is giving out some goodies at the Republican Convention!!!!!! First you will reciev a free pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR that protects you from evil when you click your heels together,and only the most devout shall never take them off even during a bath.Then you will recieve a picture of The Mormon Messiah Joesoph Smith who the Mormons worship over Jesus,Joesoph Smith was a con man,molester,Polygamist and a murderer,yet he is revered higher than christ.......Then you will recieve the BOOK OF MORMON that the con man molester Joesoph Smith wrote to help him control his followers and Brainwash them....You will also recieve the teachings on how all people of color are products of evil.....like the Mormon church teaches.Last but not least you will recieve directions to the planet in outer space named KOLOB where the Mormons believe their god lives and if you die wearing your Mormon Magical Underwear you will become a god too and fly in outer space to be with Joesoph Smith on KOLOB wih as many wives as you want.......THIS IS NOT CHRISTIAN IN ANY WAY!!!!! Romney can click his heels to activate his magical underwear all he wants but christians will not buy his Phoney garbage religion......This religion was made up by a polygamist murderer who conned so many in the 1800s conservative repub christians will not vote or support such an evil vile man like Romney.Draft dodger.....cultist....tax evader......magic underwear...it just keeps getting better and better.............Romney does not belong anywhere but a padded room..................He can take his cultist skidmarked underwear back to Utah where all the cultists live.... Warren Jeffs is probably waiting for his pardon from jail the second his Bishop Romney getsd elected,people like Romney belong in jail nowhere else....

    September 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • muggle

      sounds like these people are close ally of moslems.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  4. Joe Samus

    The Rev. James Martin is neither a religious leader nor a scholar. The proof is in his own words. It is nothing short of paranoid delusional to suggest that one man's expression of his relationship with God is somehow questioning another's faith. In point of fact, Romney has declared very clearly over and over and over again that he finds no fault with Obama's faith. This "priest" needs to read just a little further, specifically Matt. 7:2-5.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  5. Randal Allen

    I'm glad to see most people on this comment page are so understanding about the LDS faith. Less you forget Harry Reid is a mormon.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  6. sargentpepper

    i am glad he is getting to talk religion. now i want him to explain god's life in kolob. how does he travel to earth? and how often? just for starters.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • annie

      romney will do whatever it takes and pander to anyone he has to in order to win.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      You won't get those answers until well into the third or possibly fourth term of President Romney. Job one will be to restore moral dignity to America. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  7. Huebert

    I don't like Romney, but I don't know what I like. As you can see from my posts on here, I like to be contrary. It's called Borderline Personality Disorder, and unfortunately there isn't much treatment for it. Basically I get off on making fun of just about anyone and being contrary just to build up my low self esteem. One minute I'll say I'm an Atheist, then I'm not, then I'm a Christian, then I'm not and I even feel sorry for Mormons sometimes and feel like I need to defend them. People like me really make a mess of the world. And I'm very lonely too...all of my kind are. We hate seeing people happy and we attack anyone that seems smarter.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      condensed description = ass hole

      September 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  8. barbara walter

    This man would eat leeches for lunch if he thought it would bring in a few votes. So pathetic.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      How many votes and how many leeches are we talking? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  9. gop usa

    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 1:06 pm |
    • Jim

      He certainly doesn't behave in ways that Christ taught.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  10. Jim

    From what he has shown me, Mitt Romney, worships the golden calf, the money god, as his lord and savior. I have nothing against money or success as I have been blessed with enough of both. However, I do have something against, lies, deceit and bearing false witness for personal gain. These are what Mr Romney excels at.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  11. The Right Left

    A scroundel's refuge is God, Flag and the Bible. Romeny has certainly proven that to be true.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  12. Randal Allen

    It's amazing how these polls continue to show Obama leading in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia when most government sucking parasites are too lazy to get out and vote. He is so strong on foreign policy and his budget plan?

    September 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

    The majority of Repubs do NOT like Romney and I stil believe it's true ... voting for Obama is much safer than voting for Romney. Who knows what the heck Romeny really believes? For those of you impressed by his God talk, be sure to learn what Romney teaches as a Mormon leader... that black people are Israelites that couldn't make up their mind whether to follow Jesus or the devil and were painted black. (Look it up.)

    September 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • gop usa

      I am a repub and can not stand Romney,he is a cultist not a christian.He is a liar and will destroy al safety nets for the poor and middleclass,this does not sound like christian beliefs to me...........Then to think that a man wgho thinks his Mormon Magical Underwear has magical powers to protect him from evil is the last straw,,we do not need a president to think his undies has powers lol

      September 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  14. Nikki

    Romney is a cult weirdo who thinks his Mormon issued Magical Underwear has Magical powers...........ROmney is going to put the last nail in the coffin by talking about his cult,unless he is going to pretend his god is the same as the christian god ,which it is not......

    September 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes cthings ,

    September 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  16. evan

    separation of church and state... nuff said

    September 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  17. Acdsasf

    Google "things Mormons don't want you to know". Shocking.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Razorking

    Romney is growing increasingly desperate as he is watching his personal goal of being president slip away. What any reasonable person knows is that Romney is Mormon and Obama is Christian. Is a Mormon a Christian – depends on what your point of view is, maybe or maybe not. If Obama says he is a Christian and I see no serious reason to not take his word for it – in his mind he is. Anybody can say they are anything, the things they do show what they really are. The Republican party is very big on professing the Christian belief, the problem is many of them, probably a majority, actually do and say all kinds of things that I think Jesus would be ashamed of, for most money is their true God.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  19. TheThinker1958

    Romney wants to talk about God? perfect. I will like to see a Network offer Romney 30 minutes to talk about all his believes. Everything. Uninterrupted. No ads. If he believes in magic underwear I want to hear that. If his God comes from a planet far away and leave energy forms in this planet a trillion years ago I want to know. 30 MINUTES !!! He can help himself with visual aids if he wants.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  20. Eric F, Columbia MD

    Because right now, at this moment in time, what we need is more worthless, unprovable hate based ideology to drive wedges between us all. Great timing Mr. Romney.

    September 15, 2012 at 12:58 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.