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. jack johnson

    God should never be used as a political tool (He never endorced either canidate), Thats why the founding fathers seperated church from state. The Republicans can't read what it was like when the church controled the countries (Medevil times, the witch burning in the name of the church, so why bring the churches back into POWER again?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  2. Harald

    What about focusing on the important things (Hint: economy for example) instead of wasting time with God ? Whether somebody believes in a God or not is something personal and Romney can only speak for himself and not for the whole country.
    God shouldn't even be a topic in politics.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  3. HenryMiller

    "Romney ratchets ups God rhetoric"

    And my respect for him goes down in direct proportion. He can believe anything he likes about whatever gods he likes, but he needs to keep it to himself.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  4. Peik

    Tom Paine, Ben Franklin, Washington, Jefferson & John Adams didn't worry about the hillbilly vote. They were Americans.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • truth be told

      In those days that was the vote.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  5. Mama for Obama

    I am a liberal Catholic who sacrificed to send three children through Catholic Schools and a son through the University of Notre Dame. I am appalled by the total LACK of Christianity that I see in this Republican campaign! God should NEVER be used as a weapon to deny anyone equality and justice. Just look @ this picture with Romney @ Liberty University. Do you see any women or minorities there? On the other hand, President Obama has truly IMPRESSED me with his values, strength, and basic human decency. I see God in action and I BELIEVE true belief in God is reflected in good works and deeds. Mitt Romney is a liar and a tax cheat. He wants to economically harm the poor, elderly, and the middle class in favor of the wealthy few. I know very little about the Mormon faith. I know that Harry Reid makes it look good. Mittens makes it look BAD.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • HenryMiller

      Gods are delusions, and if you're seeing any sort of god in Obama, you truly are deluded.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Chutzpah

      Very few outside the cult itself know much of anything about Mormonism. They don't think we can handle their superior access to The Truth.

      Mormonism NOT EQUAL Christianity

      September 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • jp

      This is what I read: “Guile and deceit comes out of his mouth all the time. What he cannot get by deceit, he gets by force” go figure

      September 15, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  6. Known Observer

    Using" GOD's name is not a good plan – HE doesn't like to be used like this.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      And you this how? You do know that imaginary beings don't really speak, don't you?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      And I thought it was a little early yet to resort to a "Hail Mary" pass too.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  7. Bob

    If Romney's God is on the side of the rich and willing to abandon the poor and needy in order to help them get even richer, then he's not talking about the God I grew up with. I recall someone saying once, (Jesus Christ, maybe?) that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Letting Christian charity creep into government, as it has in European countries, would be welcomed, but Romney opposes universal health care, a living wage and a safety net for the lame and halt. The God I grew up with addressed these social ills through the teachings of his his son, Jesus Christ, and the rest of the Christian world has responded. I believe the majority of Americans would as well, were it not for the Republican holdouts in Congress and a massive brainwashing campaign to convince Americans that sharing with others and helping those less fortunate than ourselves is communism or socialism and therefore evil. People often forget that the ministry of Jesus Christ taught us about the dangers of greed and materialism and asked us to pursue spiritual lives rather than wealth. Can one serve both God and Mammon? I think the platform of Romney and Ryan answers that question clearly.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • HenryMiller

      Isn't there a line in the Christian bible about their god helping those who help themselves? I strongly suspect that's not a reference to those who only want to help themselves to the contents of other peoples' wallets, which is the only interest of most of the so-called "poor" in this country.

      Why should the rest of us have to bail out those who wasted the free educations they were offered? Or burned out their own brains on drugs? Or did stupid things like have babies they couldn't afford to raise? Or are just too lazy to work and think the rest of us owe them a living?

      In any society, there a few who truly can't make it on their own, but in 2012 America, half the bloody population claims they need government handouts–paid for by the other half. Ridiculous!

      Except for those very few, work or starve, you lazy bums.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  8. Mormonville native

    Electing a MORMON is an awful idea. I live in AZ, many of you may not know but states like az and utah are predominantly LDS (mormon) every half a mile theres a mormon church. Having lived here all my life, i as a non mormon i have experienced and seen what and how mormons are when they have safety in numbers. They are a prejudice filled organization who prey on the less fortunate by bribing them with kind acts and favors in order to get them to convert so they as missionaries can fill their quota. They are a group who calls themselves a religion but by definition are an organization with millions of dollars running through it. They are corrupt and extremely prejedice(wasnt until 1970s that blacks were aloud to hold certain postions within the church). Then suddenly, a prophet had a vision and their beleifs were altered. In the 1960's america was uncertain if JFK could keep church apart from work, and the vatican is italy. Now imagine if the vatican had been in utah? that is what we are setting up for. If you elect mitt romney, your not electing romney, youre electing the LDS church and Thomas Monson. I URGE I IMPLORE EVERY US CITIZEN WHO IS VOTING COSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL ALIKE TO EDUCATE AND LOOK INTO WHAT THE MORMON CHURCH IS.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • dewed

      I'm not LDS. I live in Utah. Sure, there are a few dumb things in state law thanks to the religion (i.e. liquor laws are weird), but this state has a balanced budget, lowish taxes, plenty of paying jobs, cheap cost of living, and we take care of the poor. Compare that to any Democrat heavy state with massive taxes, huge budgets, huge deficits, high unemployment, high cost of living, and so forth.

      No, you didn't make your case. Try again.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Chutzpah

      And Nazi Germany had a very nice highway system. So what's YOUR point?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  9. Reality Checker

    If religions are intended to bring one to a state of spiritual enlightenment, then why do so many people in religions feel compelled to hate and/or kill in the name of (insert deity of choice) ____________?

    September 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  10. Sin Breaker

    We need prayer back in school.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • chubby rain


      September 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Why is that?

      September 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      I remember a few kids I knew back in school praying to god hoping for a miracle to pass a test.

      YUP, totally reality based.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Only if they pray to Crom...

      September 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • jack johnson

      Why you want to close schools down? We need to get God out of the elections (HE IS NOT RUNNING). Besides he is not Americian!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      "We need prayer back in school."

      i suggest we get all the kids to pray to allah.
      Thats ok isnt it? you are fine with that right?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  11. Mike from Calgary

    All the Democrats have to do is give Romney lots of rope ... Romney seems intent on hanging himself and the Republican Party that selected Romney, the weakest of the 8 candidates for the Republican Nomination.Romney filps and flops (Google the Romney Flip Flops video on Your Tube), he lies as Gingrich set out, he blows in the wind as Huntsman pointed out, he ,,,,, as Santorum highlighted and he can't understand or deliberately mistates the statements and positions of others!


    September 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • captain america

      And which candidate will you be voting for? None! Why don't you tend to your own country and leave the US to US. We don't need you or your bull sh it. there's your sign

      September 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      Example of "trickle-down" (the only kind that does work, even if pathetic):

      Idiot degenerates to:
      __truth be told degenerates to his other name:
      ____just sayin degenerates to his other name:
      ______captain america degenerates to his other name:
      ________Ronald Regonzo

      September 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  12. Dan

    Well I guess he is okay with losing the independent votes then. This guy is such a d-bag, I can't wait to see this fumbling idiot on the debates. No one wants a crazy Mormon as president, thanks for trying though Romney. Romney's campaign slogan should be 'Mitt Romney, the John Kerry of the Republican party'.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  13. herrick9

    It's "Puppet Time" Mitt.....

    But he most assuredly should have know this when he signed up to sail on the good-ship, Old Testament.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  14. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago**; and that other things, like god, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Sometimes, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). Sometimes, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Religions are just big old evil clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division along the way (disguised as love).

    So instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

    ** (yes, charlatan spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think it hadn't?)

    mama kindless

    September 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      Great post!

      September 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  15. ug

    This upsets the liberals because they worship the devil.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      Hahahaha..... omg that is the funniest thing I've read today.

      Religions divide and conquer and your statement reflects that.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      Example of "trickle-down" (the only kind that actually works, albeit pathetically):

      Idiot degenerates to his other name:
      __truth be told degenerates to his other name:
      ____just sayin degenerates to his other name:
      ______captain america degenerates to his other name:
      ________Ronald Regonzo degenerates to his other name:
      __________christopher hitchens (much misrepresenting the real CH) degenerates to his other name:

      September 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • scottf

      I bet people have to get up early in the morning to keep up with your astute intellect.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • patriot

      Truth be trolled
      Could you post your proof or do we take your word for it?

      September 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Chutzpah

      No, but we DO have "Sympathy for the Devil"

      September 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  16. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Ah, yes. Liberty University – where freedom of thought is suppressed and students who express opinions other than those of the founders are summarily dismissed.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • ug

      You must be mistaken...you are a lib and always do that so I will say that your liberal zombie schools are the ones that rot the brain...

      September 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Who me?

      What a snob.!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  17. jimbo

    A sure sign that Romney is losing and is desperately using any means now to stay in contention . Too late, mittens.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • ug

      Sure he is desperate...sorry boy...you godless obama will lose and you all know it...baptists vote also...while you worship the devil.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  18. Glenc

    I can not believe I am seeing this. A LDS standing at the well of Southern Baptism?? Being a life long Baptist I know what I was taught about the LDS church. It was not positive. And now they let Romney speak at Liberty University?!?!?!?! What odd bed fellows doth politics make.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • ug

      Of course that is what you were "taught" because you were taught by baptists instead of the Mormons...since when did the baptist know more about Morons than Mormons do?

      September 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • AvdBerg


      Baptists and Mormons are all of the same spirit (Luke 9:55).

      http://WWW.AWORLDDECEIVED.CA – article: 'Mormon Church – Cult and Spritual Harlot'.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  19. AvdBerg

    Liberty University, BYU and all other Theological schools and seminaries are the training grounds for false apostles (Mark 13:22). The Gospel of Christ cannot be taught by mankind but can only be revealed by the Spirit of God (Gal. 1:12). For a better understanding of this mystery, we invite you to read the article ‘Ye Need Not That Any Man Teach You’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Mitt Romney’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ but rather in an image of the spirit and god of this world and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency of the United States of America, we invite you to read the articles ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’, ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’, ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’ and ‘Boston University – School of Theology and Stonehill College’, listed on our website.

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Revelation?? Everyone knows that the dude who wrote that was high as a kite. He must have crashed his camel into a field of burning poppies or worse. My goodness. St. John the Opium Addict, evidently.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      mama kindless

      For a better understanding of the purpose of this Blog we invite you to read the article ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

      All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    September 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but you assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • CrazyReligouse

      I pray that you die right now from a lightning strike!..........You're still reading this so I guess my prayer didn't work.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      The people that have been killed for religious reasons might disagree with you if they were still alive.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
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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.