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.”

CNN Belief: Can Mitt Romney’s evangelical ambassador seal the deal before Election Day?

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. Acdsasf

    I hear they just came out with Magical Underwear Depends. Dual purpose. When Armageddon arrives, you can be saved while at the same time crapping your pants.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Throwing spaghetti or God2 at the wall to see if anything sticks. He's pitiful.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  3. Pete/Ark

    Mitt read "Stranger in a Strange Land" when he was in college...he kinda skimmed through it,but became firmly convinved that the catch-phrase of the religion it depicted was a direct message to him...

    September 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  4. FedUp2

    Let The Cleansing of The Temple begin.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      That started when the Romans exterminated Jeebus for causing a ruckus. Continue...maybe.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Can we see inside the "working" mormon temples to cleanse them?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  5. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    I wonder exactly how many of the fat old men in that photo actually have a real PhD from a *reputable* academic insti'tution.
    ("Liberty University" Bwahahahahahahaha)

    September 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Pete/Ark

      I've got a Doctor of Divinity from The Universal Life Church....cost me $15 (plus postage) back in '74....

      September 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  6. Hillcrester

    Having learned he is getting NO traction with undecided voters, RomneyBain does the only thing he can do: double down with the gubs-and-bible-clinging GOP base. Expect to see him pheasant/deer/polar bear shooting with Ryan next week.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Tommy Tasteless

      Won't that interfere with his nigger lynching trip in Mississippi next week?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  7. Mitt Romney

    I've been talking to my campaign stategists, and we agree that the only way to win the presidential election is to appeal to the undecided voters, the moderates and independants. They are the decisive demographic in the final election. Everyone else is already decided, and can be ignored.

    So I am going to play up religion now, which appeals to the conservative religious extreme. Appeal to moderates by appeasing the extremists. That should work great!

    By the way, my campaign strategist is John McCain. He suggested the VP candidate that would only appeal to the Tea Party Libertarians who are already going to vote for me.

    Get the undecideds by pandering to the people who repel the undecideds. I'm sure to win.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Hillcrester

      The RomneyBain plan is voter suppression in OH, WI, FL, PA, etc.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  8. floridamom1

    Certain individuals on here have no idea how to listen when somebody speaks. Too bad, probably why they are voting for obama and not Romney. Use your ears people.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • wellywellup

      The GOP lies are starting to get tough to listen too. They are out right, pants on fire, lies. The sad part is they don't need to do that to win the election, but because they are doing that they won't.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Mirror Mirror

      Not know how to listen? That would be you, floridamom1

      September 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • callywag

      floridacreature...what exactly are you trying to sell? Mormonism isn't "in" anymore. You've had your day. Use your ears and eyes...welcome to the real world where we know all about your temple rituals, your secret names, your nasty underwear and your Mountain Meadows Masacre.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • newage42

      Good Post FL Mom, Romney is our best chance to get people back to work and improve the economy..

      September 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Mitt Romney

      Darn right, newage! I'll get people working in China, just like I did as head of Bain Capital, when I broke up the companies and ended the jobs of many Americas.

      Because China needs jobs too, and ultimately I don't care if I personally make a bunch of money again.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • sb

      Floridamom1.......you are exactly right! Callywag.....go headbutt a bullet.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  9. wellywellup

    Mormons believe in a different God than the Bible teaches. They call God the Father, "Heavenly Father" because they say he is the father of our spirits.2 They do not believe that our birth on earth was the beginning of our existence. We supposedly lived with the "Heavenly Father" before our birth and we were given bodies so that we can reach our "divine potential" and eventually gain godhood ourselves. See, the Mormons have a teaching that was explained by their Prophet Lorenzo Snow as follows:

    "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become." 3
    They not only believe that we may become gods, but they teach that God was once a man

    September 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      What happens when one of the planets which they get put on for heaven gets hit by an asteroid ? What if a member of your family wants to be on someone eles's planet for their heaven ?
      Makes me crazy.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • ep tor

      Sounds like a pyramid – is that legal? Or maybe Amway under one of it's many pseudonyms.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  10. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Pssst...Mitt. Your magic undies are showing through the top of your academic gown.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Mom

      So are Biden's and Ryan's (not sure about Obama's) crosses, St. Christopher medals and rosaries.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      The emperor has no clothes.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  11. Pete/Ark

    when all other avenues fail, a scoundrel seeks final refuge in false piety...witness how many convicted felons suddenly "find God" when the appeals system is exhausted.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  12. EffortPA

    Which God? There are so many of them. I hope Romney is not trying to tell me which God I should believe in.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Brian

      Don't worry, he is.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Catdancer

      Whatever god it is, it can't be the one that decreed "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

      September 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  13. Tom Matschiner

    "Who does not see...that the the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?" James Madison

    September 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  14. keeth

    Christianity is attractive to conservatives because it offers them a free badge of empathy that they can proudly wear to provide evidence of their compassion when their own actions prove otherwise.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bill

      Where in the world did you come to this deduction?. Oh, yes, out of ignorance.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • BeverlyNC

      BILL – All we have to do is watch what these extremist Republican evangelicals SAY versus what they DO. They DO NOT follow the teachings of Jesus, play multiple choice with the Ten Commandments, and spread hate and fear rather than love, tolerance, truth, and compassion as Jesus taught us and as he LIVED his time on earth. These Republicans are more the moneychangers Jesus threw out of the Temple for cheating the People and defiling the House of God. Republican and Christian are not compatible words with this hate-filled Republican Party. I don't know what happened to the Republican Party that once were human beings.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  15. Rollo Tomasi

    The following is a complete list of all of the sound evidence available supporting the existence of a diety:

    September 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Damocles


      September 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • floridamom1

      And won't you be surprised some day!

      September 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Damocles


      I've been surprised many days in my life and I'm sure I'll be surprised on a few more.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Rollo Tomasi

      There is no intelligent defense for your beliefs, Flomom. You have no evidence anywhere in the universe, not the slightest shred of evidence. All you have is a weird old book (as do many many other religions) with no evidence at all to support its wild claims.

      So if you have no evidence, you cannot debate. There are really no tactics or strategies to support the unsupportable. As such, religious people are forced to instead use fallacious reasoning. They have nothing else. The only thing worth noting is how happily so many of them embrace and use intellectually dishonest positions and abusive behavior. Some morality!

      That is why you resorted to your intellectually dishonest response

      September 15, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      No. He won't be surprised.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  16. viranka

    first paragraph was all i needed to read to see that if this religious fanatic and his choir boy are elected this country will try to be run by religion. VOTE OBAMA 2012! and remember to vote for anybody but a republican for congress/senate.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • duckforcover

      Take it easy on the poor guy. God's the only one he's got left to help him now.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • floridamom1

      So, if Mitt Romney says that he won't take God out of where He already is, such as on the currency, buildings, Declaration of Independence, etc., then something is wrong with him and we shouldn't vote for him? We should vote for the guy who wants to change everything this country has stood for for the last 200+ years?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      If you actually think that was all about god, you best go back to school.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      "We should vote for the guy who wants to change everything this country has stood for for the last 200+ years?"

      yep, why change the religious US that stood for slavery and jim crow right?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  17. Ronald Regonzo

    Rubber ducky, you're the one! You make bath time lots of fun! Rubber ducky, rubber ducky I love you!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  18. Ed

    Is that Thomas Jefferson ans James Madison I hear rolling in their graves?

    September 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  19. Dave

    If I wanted to live in a theocracy, I'd move to Iran.

    "I contemplate with sovereign reverence... a wall of separation between Church and State." -Thomas Jefferson

    Respect your founders.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  20. Fish

    Romney is yet another hypocrite using God for his own purposes. Since God is the ultimate judge, just let him be, judgement day is that for our creator only!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • BeverlyNC

      Which GOD? The one Christians beleive in or Romney's MORMON God who lives on the planet Zolob??
      No Joke – go read what Mormons believe. Romney is no Christian – why do you think he shows such disdain for the poor, the homeless, and those Jesus taught us to treat with kindness and help? Jesus is not the Head of the Mormon Church – Joseph Smith is. Romney does not read the Bible. He reads the "Book of Mormon" written by Joseph Smith in the 1800s. Better know what and who you are voting for. Romney has shown no character, no values, not one plan for the PEOPLE and says he will NOT tell us until after he is elected because it is a "secret" Plan. NO THANKS.
      I know the character, values, and leadership excellence of President Obama and how he has ALWAYS put We the PEOPLE first in ALL his efforts. I stand with my President who I know and have seen stand up for ALL of us!

      September 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74
About this blog

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.