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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.

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. The Film Professor

    Take an m out of Mormon and you have M0r0n

    September 15, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Oldster

      Wow! I fell out of my cradle, laughing, the first time I heard that one.... 68 years ago!

      Lame.

      (and I'm not even a Mormon)

      September 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • callywag

      LOVE IT "The Film Professor" and it fits Romney for sure!

      September 15, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • sb

      @The film professor......seriously?!?? Thats all you could come up with? Move out of your parents basement & get a life.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  2. Tigrr

    During Vietnam, Mitt protested against the anti-war protesters, the skiped to France to avoid the draft. (all illegal)
    He wants another war, but are any of his kids in these bogus bush wars? No. Any kids of Obama, the Congres, or House in these wars? No.

    But he's willing to send you and your kids to fight and die for more lies...

    see youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.
    Yeah, the Bush WH Gang did it.

    Mitt just another puppet for Senior and Cheney, as were Junior and Regan.
    Grrrrrrrrrrrr

    September 15, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  3. Humanist11

    The religious right has taken over the Republican party and has turned it into a tool of the religious. Here is what some of our founding fathers have to say about religion:

    "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it." – John Adams

    "Lighthouses are more useful than Churches." – Benjamin Franklin

    "Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies. – Thomas Jefferson

    Now some quotes from more modern leaders:

    “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job.” –George W. Bush

    “Hence today I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator” –Adolph Hitler

    My favorite quote:

    "We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." – Richard Dawkins

    September 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  4. AgrippaMT

    Well, it's clear that Mittens is getting really desperate now. He apparently thinks God will help him be elected President. Fortunately, God has more important things to do elsewhere. Mittens is dead meat.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • callywag

      Much like the dog he had strapped to the roof of his family car...

      September 15, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  5. Tigrr

    This is what the last GOP WH did to NYC, America, the World....
    see youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.
    Yeah, the Bush WH Gang did it.

    Mitt just another puppet for Senior and Cheney, as were Junior and actor Regan. Evil Dynasty.
    Little wonder the mid-east is not so pleased.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  6. BillC

    I just don't know who these politicians think they are! Mitt Romney often says that if he is elected president, he will not “take God out of the public square.” God is already in the the public square! Just a reminder, "God is not a bust that we move around to show that we are christians. Christianity is a lifestyle. It's a verb! It's time they stopped playing for our votes! If he wants to keep God in the square, he needs to sell all he has and give the money to the poor! That's how we honor God!

    September 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      But I can't pray away the gay! What should I do???

      September 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Try using your own alias tom,And you will wonder why Obama lost. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Guess again, herbie.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Nancy

      any facts to support your proposition???

      September 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • callywag

      @ Ronald.. you can't pray away the gay...it's how you're born. God love gay men and women. Love yourself and you won't be so bitter and angry.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Conan

      Pray to my God Crom...

      September 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      SPAM much?

      September 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  8. Alex

    So Romney wants to keep God in the public square? You mean like the way Muslim rioter in the middle east is keeping God in the public square? Just checking

    September 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Ryan has the ever expanding Tea party and Romney has the moral high ground. A deadly one two combination to a lackluster Obama campaign. Biden... Who? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • secular politics, not a religious state

      Alex, an excellent point. Romney's rhetoric echoes the events we are all reading about in the middle East. "Allah is the only God and Muhammad is his Prophet" is no different than "I will keep God on our currency, in our Pledge of Allegiance and in the courtyard" aka "the Christian God is the only God and I don't care what anyone else believes". Yes, the U.S.A. is the land of tolerance- not.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  9. Chris

    "GOD" has no place in government, proven time and time again, the belief in this Fairy of the sky, is the reason for almost every conflict in recorded history of mankind.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      "Amen" to that, and yes pun intended.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  10. therealpeace2all

    Romney's "ratcheting up of the God rhetoric" is not surprising at all, IMHO. Typically, that's what the right will do as they are losing.

    For him to have even a chance, he is going to have to capture a number of swing states, as some of the polling I saw, as of yesterday, shows President Obama opening up a slightly wider lead.

    For Romney to win, he's going to have to pull out all the stops... which means hitting a lot of the issues that whip up the GOP/Social Conservatives... "God, God, God"... "No Abortion " "Creationism as Science" in Public Schools, etc...
    Unless things change pretty dramatically between now and November, it is starting to look more and more like President Obama, will be re-elected.

    Peace...

    September 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  11. r00t4rd3d

    mitt romney, lol.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Pilgrim1

      Don't you mean Mutt Romney?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      well Mutt Romney fits...remember how he strapped his family dog to the roof of the car for their vacation?

      September 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  12. Jack

    Romney will need Divine intervention to win the debates and the election.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Patricksday

      maybe a fresh new set of underwear from the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City will do the trick. Or the chants from those who bow to Lucifer.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  13. Pilgrim1

    Nothing quite like watching the Religious Right sell out to a Mormon....

    September 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  14. caa

    you know Mitt would not know god if it bit him in the ass!!

    September 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Pilgrim1

      Unless he was looking in a mirror!!

      September 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  15. anothermuse

    sigghhh...I don't understand why the need to appeal to the party base. Will the far right vote for Obama? If he really wanted to make a difference he'd do after independents. The right has it's mind made up.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Jack

      Romney may be concerned that the right will stay at home. After all, he really isn't there preferred candidate.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Jack

      Good point.

      Peace...

      September 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  16. mallitonin

    God paid for my house. He raised my kids and sent them all to college and then he made me a millionaire! But he only did it for me, so don't ask him yourself.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  17. Ronald Regonzo

    Rubber ducky you the one, you make bathtime LOTS of fun! Me and Romney in the bath going squish, squish, squish and Rubber ducky there he goes...make a wish!

    September 15, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  18. shane

    God did my taxes.

    September 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  19. shante

    Mr Romney- quit flipflopping. Show us your taxes and where all your investments are- that is the right thing to do. Hiding something? Americans are waiting for your tax returns- show them now while you have a chance!
    Obama/Biden- another 4 more years.!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • anothermuse

      No..We aren't. I really don't care what he made or how he filed his taxes. It won't help create jobs one way or the other, and it won't have any impact on trying to restore a reasonably functional government. It's probably as equally as unimportant as the number of times he mentions god.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      It actually does matter about R'Money's taxes.

      If, according to R'Money, the 13.8%(?) taxes he paid is what he is willing to reveal, it sure sounds like the rest of his tax return won't make people think highly of him.

      Not revealing his taxes goes to his character and motivations, and possibly moral or legal issues. If he used or abused questionable loopholes to avoid paying taxes the voters might want to know about it.

      No 1040, no vote.

      September 15, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  20. vancouveral

    The more Romney falls behind the more he will invoke God into the conversation! This is the last refuge of the charlatan who must appeal to the parties base to try and rescue his sinking Presidential run. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Roll on November!

    September 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Humanist11

      Do you have this much mixing of religion and politics in Canada?

      September 15, 2012 at 8:49 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.