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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. lol Liberty University is GARBAGE

    lol what a f'ing joke.
    just euthanize all these Jesus zombies already..............

    September 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • truth be told

      Murder is the weapon of choice of all atheists.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "truth be told", but you assertions regarding atheism 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 9:31 pm |
  2. Duda Day

    He can have what's left of mine from the bathroom. There are still a few pages I haven't wiped with.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  3. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    R'Money is the new NIXON.

    Remember Nixon when he campaigned on the phrase "I am NOT A CROOK"?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  4. Jules

    When talking about those many people who will come in his name, Jesus said, "By their actions you will know them." We have here a guy who lies at the drop of a hat, who bears false witness daily, and yet he is going to reference God more. Words are cheap, Mitt. Where's your servent heart?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • jp

      Have you analyzed the statistics and the facts put out by the administration. Be it on anything. I always wondered how could they mislead you continually, and people still go around believing these words.

      Every time a rosy picture is painted, you have to do real research to find out the real truth. It really needs courage of conviction to say truth as it is.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  5. Marilyn

    He's playing the god card just like Bush did

    September 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      That's not a card that is four aces. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  6. mikem

    The same way that there is a lunatic fringe of Muslims who call for the murder of anyone who insults their religion, there is also a lunatic fringe of Christians whose mindset is hate and violence toward atheists. Although this mindset by lunatic Christians is irrational, is there a rational explanation for it?

    America, one nation, under Law (not God), with liberty and justice for all

    September 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      "One nation, under Law, with Liberty and Justice for all".

      Excellent!

      Pass it on!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Marilyn

      I like that!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • truth be told

      That would be one nation under Gods law. No one hates atheists although atheists have earned that distinction. Atheists have murdered in cold blood more innocent people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries. President George H W Bush did not hate atheists when he said an atheist is not a patriot and should not be a citizen of the USA, we are one nation under God. It is a simple statement of fact.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  7. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    I disagree with the majority of the Dems platform .. but religion being so prominent with the Repubs worries me much more than anything the Dems are proposing. We need to get religion out of politics so we can focus on real issues that affect us all and future generations.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  8. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were Morons!!!

    Great heroes ya got there, Skip!

    September 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Ramon F. Herrera

    Dear Son Mitt:

    Thou Shalt Not use my name to spread hatred.

    Signed: God

    ps: I am voting for Obama

    September 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • mb72463

      WOW !! Can't get much lower than you....the slimy slugs of this world must be happy you are allowed to exist...for now....

      September 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  10. Bob

    The more vile a candidate, quite often the more frequently the candidate appeals to patriotism and religion. The more one publicly trumpets one's faith and patriostism, quite often the greater the probability that the trumpeted virtues and characteristics are false. Doesn't take much in the way of sense to see through republican self-proclaimed patriotism and faith.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • mb72463

      dang it, you almost made sense.... LOL

      September 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  11. Darth Cheney

    Romney says he will not take God out of his heart, but he's already shown he does not have one to begin with.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  12. Peter Wolfe

    How much of Mr Romney's 200 million has he reinvested in the U.S economy? He in affect stole productive money in leverage buy-out programs from multi-national or union companies and got a tremendous profit off of it. I thought it was a tennant in christianity not to covet your neighbors property that of social justice not purely compassion? What did he honestly risk other than pennies compared to workers careers in his own nation that uprooted families and cause social unrest in the U.S? This is the problem with financial firms that they don't fully reinvest the money and definitely not in an equivalent manner in their own domestic country. Last thing that I think churches need to be taxed like any other lobbyst or special interest group is because statistics show a strong coorilation to the conservative side no to democrats.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • mb72463

      As most children do, your confusing monopoly ( business ) money with PERSONAL wealth.. Liberals couldn't get the facts straight if it bit them in the ass..oh wait...your not straight..probably like it...

      September 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Athy

      It's "you're", not "your". You write like a typical moron, but keep trying, we need the laughs.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  13. I'm super cereal about this

    If a single dollar has been spent on any candidates campaign, they need to be disqualified for using public money to promote religion.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • frank

      Absolutely!!!!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  14. want2believe

    I'd love to know what people would think if we had a Presidential nominee who happened to be Muslim and made similar remarks about Allah being in the public square and party platform. God could be an ambiguous term right? So it shouldn't matter who's version of god they are referring to? Somehow I just don't see people embracing this rhetoric as quickly...

    September 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • truth be told

      allah isn't God

      September 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  15. oneSTARman

    GOD called from the Star KOLOB and told the Head of the Mormons that Jesus and his Brother Lucifer and all the OTHER gods want MITT to give them more PRESS before Mitt becomes a Mormon GOD and gets his own Planet too.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      sounds as crazy as any other christian religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Mitt will be ruling planet earth in the near future. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • frank

      He is just another crook hiding behind religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • truth be told

      Mormon isn't Christian

      September 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  16. frank

    He is now becoming desperate since he didn't speak this way previously.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  17. One one

    It might not be a bad idea if he can get god to deposit 16 trIllion dollars into the U.S. treasury. Surely god can afford it. He is among the one percent.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      That's Omnipresent not One Percent...

      September 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  18. Sherri

    Romney belongs to a religion that condemns gambling, (in any format) yet his biggest supporter is Sheldon Adelson, who owns several of the largest casinos in the U.S. and China. Is that not a hypocrite? He says something is bad, yet takes the proceeds FROM that very activity. Adelson has given Romney, so far, in excess of 10 million and vows to give $100 million to defeat Obama. You know I've always thought that whoever you take the most money from is who owns you. In this case, Sheldon Adelson OWNS Romney. And if he would be elected, he would do just as Adelson wants.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • frank

      What a great point!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      Wow... What say ye R'Money?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  19. nru

    Scary

    September 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  20. sly

    get ready ... if Mittens is elected, you'll all be expected to become mormons ...

    September 15, 2012 at 5:12 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.