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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.”

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. Ben Franklin

    Great because God has worked out so well in the public square. Just ask the Libyans.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Yeah, it's true Ben...me and my father kinda suck right now. Of course we've been the cause of SO much misery throughout the ages. It still confuses us why people depend on us so much when we do absolutely NOTHING for them!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  2. 351969

    Lets see if God prevents this fruitcake from getting creamed.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Atheism is unhealthy for squirrels

      Prayer worked for Tebow. He went all the way to the souper salad. It will work for Romney too.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      If all the losers on these blogs and all their friends and all the ho mos voted Obama we are still not talking double digits. Over half the idiot atheists here aren't even Americans. With the gains of Ryan and the Tea Party and Romney on the moral high ground we are looking at a potential landslide. 70/30 Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • midwest rail

      False, R.R. But you already knew that.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That doesn't appear to be reality, Ronnie. Obama has the lead according to polls.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      @Ronald Regonzo said: "losers on these blogs" "ho mos" "idiot atheists" "aren't even Americans." "Tea Party and Romney on the moral high ground"

      Typical for a right-wing nut job to claim "moral high ground" while simultaneously spewing hate.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Losers fail to see the political signs till its too late. Your loss. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      He's a troll. That phrase "been found wanting" is a dead giveaway. The fvckwit's used it before.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Still, as you can tell, I'm the BIGGEST LOSER in the world! I've been on here ALL DAY LONG!!! WHERE IS MY RUBBER DUCKY? RUBBER DUCKY, YOU'RE THE ONE! I LOVE YOU OVER ROMNEY!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Too late"? Too late for what, Ronnie Rube? Too late to be born stupid like you were?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Polls don't win elections votes do. Romney / Ryan2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • mallitonin

      The people don't win elections, the electoral college does. We the people have no true say.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Polls don't win elections."

      No, honey. They don't. They indicate which candidate the voters are likely to elect. Do you have any that show Romney winning?

      Of course you don't, herbalicious.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Another nail in the liberal coffin. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Kiss your "right" to murder the unborn good bye. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Kiss your rights and kiss my a** and kiss my boyfriend!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      @RR

      Yours is the politics of hate. I can see why you have chosen the right-wing to follow like an obedient robot. Political "Stockholm Syndrome" is my guess, or is that too much "science" for you?

      Obama 2012. Count on it.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • truth be trolled

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

      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 9:38 pm |
  3. swebster

    Just what the country needs in a time of economic crisis – some twit that intends to pray our way out of it. America do the correct thing in Nov and keep the guy you have in office. I'll take the Harvard/Stanford grad that HAS a brain in his head any day over the clown that appears to be trying to buy his way into the White House. As an economist, I can tell you the policies (or lack thereof) articulated thus far from the GOP scare the hell out of me and I do not even LIVE in America!

    September 15, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  4. RasPutin

    Let's face it – Romney should no longer be the main battle. The focus should shift to getting those Grover grovelers who signed the "pledge" out of office so the US government can begin to function again. Consign the Tea Party to an embarrassing spot in history.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      I agree. Remove the "Obstructionist" Party from office!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The Tea Party is not going away. It gained status and power at the last election and in the primaries nationwide. With Ryan and the Tea Party and Romney on the moral high ground you are looking at a Romney landslide. 70/30 Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ronnie, are you really as moronic as you appear?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Are you as blind as you are stupid?The handwriting is on the wall. You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahhahhhaa! What a bonehead.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Once strident, now shrill. This Romney/Ryan troll is having his testicles plucked by the reality of how his boy is doing in the polls and how he will do in November. Romney's downfall is how he champions white bread morality and Christian values.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      At the inauguration remember you heard it here first. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  5. mikem

    Assuming for the sake of argument that everything in the bible is true and that God really exists and God really did create the heavens and the earth, that still does not answer this question: Who created God?

    Nobody will ever know the answer to the question of who created God.

    Even if everything in the bible is proven to be true, that still leaves unanswered the question of who created the creator? Even if I were a religious person and the bible was all true, this is the point where I would start praying to God’s creator instead of to God.

    Why pray to God when God’s creator can destroy God?

    September 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • just sayin

      God is eternal without beginning or end that is part of what makes God who He is. God bless

      September 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • mikem

      Just sayin, sounds like you're just sayin you do not know who created God. That's okay, nobody ever will.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • just sayin

      I am saying God isn't created God IS. God bless

      September 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      I like the way you think. It takes courage and the willingness to keep your mind open in order to be capable of critical thought.

      ASK QUESTIONS PEOPLE!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • mikem

      Just sayin, even if your response is true that "God isn't created God IS" then the only logical conclusion from your statement is that God IS a concept that exists in your mind.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  6. 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 USA, 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?’, ‘Boston University – School of Theology and Stonehill College’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, 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 6:02 pm |
  7. FloridaRes

    Interesting that Jesuit priest talks about code in Romney's statements. When has the 2012 Dem campaignasked for removal of God from coins? Romney is running scared and whipping up his base. If they are smart, they will run for the hills.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      Exactly. Create fear and resultant anger in people to control them to meet your needs.

      Republican use FEAR propaganda trigger words to place blame and scare people.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • jp

      It is politically incorrect for Democrats to use the word God. There are several more politically incorrect terms came about in just last three years. Now you know.
      The administration's whole decision process revolves around what is good for the President's re-election, rather than what is good for the country.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, right, jp. And Mittens did a really great job commenting on foreign policy in the middle of a crisis because he's concerned about what's best for the nation.

      You idiot.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  8. CTYank

    What does it matter what he (or anyone) believes? It does matter what he does, and why. Leaves Mitt improvement room.
    In some respects, faith is intellectual laziness. No shame in saying "I don't, and can't, know some things."

    September 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  9. truth be told

    For me, prayer takes the form of the Devil, and then I bow down and worship him! Oh great Lucifer, meet me in the mensroom!

    September 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Get all your stealing in before November after that it is a brave new world. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  10. Cogito

    Gary Johnson just looks better & BETTER every day we get closer to November 6th... Obamney is a joke.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  11. carlos333777

    Total, complete hypocrisy.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  12. Hillcrester

    Irrelevant. RomneyBain is toast. Add him to the McCain-Palin pile. He will be luckyb o get 200 electoral votes. Time to move on.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Last election and primary the Tea Party gained strength and power nationwide. The country is almost evenly balanced with only a few votes separating left and right. November should be the biggest win yet for Ryan and the tea party movement. With Romney on the moral high ground we are talking landslide.. If Obama pulled all the losers on these blogs and all the ho mos he still won't hit double digits. We are looking at the Romney Revolution, back to basics and a Morally governed America. Prediction 70/30 split favoring Romney / Ryan 2012.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      @Regonzo

      Your hate is showing. Guess that makes you fit right in with all the "Moral" people.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Call it whatever you want it is not hate it is sound political reckoning. You heard it here first 70/ 30 favoring Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where are you getting this 70/30 business, Ronnie? Pulledoutofyourass dot com?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • midwest rail

      RR is still a one note troll – and delusional.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      @RR

      I'm sure you are actually unable to recognize your hatred, but others can see it.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Bring your balloon in for a landing and look around at the facts.You hold an extreme minority opinion and the fire isn't there this time out. Hope and change didn't work, the road to the oval office runs by the gas station and the Tea Party is taking names. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you just make up nonsense, Ronnie. Thanks for confirming it.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Enjoy Guantanamo if you can Tom you won't be missed. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Enjoy repeating 5th grade if you can, herbalicious.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  13. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    No Republican candidate has a chance of winning without pandering to church-nazis.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      And that is not a bad thing. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  14. trollol

    Seriously? The republicans are trying to fail? Praying to god isn't going to fix the united states' financial problems. Trying to sell himself based on religious beliefs is wrong on so many levels.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  15. Alex

    GOP logic...fight Middle East religious extremism with American religious extremism.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • RIALgal

      My thoughts exactly. The events of the past few days should be a stern warning about what can happen when any faith tradition takes hold of politics. Religion is a very private matter and does not belong in the political arena. If Christians would only live what they preach the country would be much better off. Trying to force one's beliefs on the country is simply wrong.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      The right-wingers love a good war. A holy war is the perfect excuse too. It lets them have no "real" objective to accomplish yet will still creates the hate needed.

      Who would Jesus kill? Or would he turn the other cheek?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  16. jrm03063

    "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret…."

    September 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • truth be told

      Prayer takes many forms that is but one.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Me

      "Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," [Jesus] replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:40. God isn't impressed with our religious silence. Even rocks will cry out in praise if we don't. I don't believe in the Mormon version of God, but I do believe in the biblical God and will praise him VOCALLY every day of my life!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  17. Lady Mill

    He is bowing to the American Taliban... An American Taliban that recognizes only one god and only one way of worship. He is way too dangerous with his desperation to win. Let's hope everyone sees through him and that invoking the God word does not mean you have any substance.

    September 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • bf83

      He is owned by the Koch Bros and America's Taliban – the religious wrong.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Janis

      First of all there are many people who do not pray, that does not mean they are atheist. Some people believe it is arrogant to believe that God is merely an errand boy waiting around to satidfy your desires. Please, and All Mighty God has far more important things to do then to answer mankinds trivial requests. Don't take yourself so seriously you are just one of trillions of people that have become before and will come after you. You are nothing more than a speck in the history of the world. Prayer changes nothing. Living your life in a righteous way, that changes everything.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • truth be told

      janis
      it is obvious you do not have a clue what real prayer is all about.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • yang

      Janis actually sounds as if she/he knows exactly what's up. thanks, Janis, for sounding like a sane religious person.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Me

      Janis, Jesus prayed and taught his disciples to pray. It's important! I encourage you to start a conversation with God. Not a grocery list of wants, but a real conversation.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  19. Eric

    Great! Now Romney has something in common with the mullahs. What the world needs right now is MORE God in the "public square"!!!111!!!! *eye roll*

    September 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  20. nelsonleonard

    Why do I find some atheists act in a more Christian way (love and caring for their fellow human beings) than Christians do. Who would God judge more harshly?

    September 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • truth be told

      A loving caring atheist like Joe Stalin who murdered 60 million of his own people.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • bf83

      Amen!

      September 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      READ "Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism" By Dr. Lawrence Britt

      And then tell me that the right wing religious extremists in the US (aka American Taliban) don't fit the these characteristics to a great degree.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • jrm03063

      I would argue that doing unto others as you would have them do unto you IS EXACTLY THE SAME THING as knowing Jesus. Whether you state his name or not, whether you believe he had powers greater than mortal man or not – NONE OF THAT MATTERS – if you conduct yourself in a way that Jesus would call right and just.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • trollol

      @ 'truth be told'
      Stalin used christianity as a tool because that is what religion is. Hitler himself was a christian. I don't believe religion makes a difference in this case.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • truth be told

      Stalin murdered Christians by the millions so did hitler but on a smaller scale and both were confirmed atheists.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry, "truth be told", but all of your assertions are unfounded. I see that you continue to make unfounded statements. I strongly recommend the following book:

      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 9:29 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.