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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. Galaxy Prime

    Mitt is trying to demonstrate his closeness to god but satan is hoping Mitt wins the election, very ironic.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  2. brich22

    He is nothing but a huge HYPOCRITE! His desperation is showing.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  3. steve

    The GOP extremists want to tell you which God to worship, how to do it, who to hate, and who to blame for your misfortunes. Sound familiar??? Their base is so far right they slipped into a wormhole and wound up in 1930's Germany where they were greeted with enthusiasm and an extended arm salute.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  4. Sid Airfoil

    Faith in place of reason, authority in place of choice, rules in place of responsibility, intolerance in place of pluralism, assertion in place of discussion, arrogance in place of understanding, condemnation in place of sympathy, medievalism in place of modernity. This is what bringing god back into politics means. Even a fiscal conservative like me can't vote for the GOP's attempt to reverse 700 years of intellectual and social development. I'd rather my taxes went up.

    Sid

    September 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • mandfkiwsa

      Well said... I hope your taxes don't go up!

      September 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  5. Obama

    How can anyone who lies as much as this guy talk about God?????

    September 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  6. mandfkiwsa

    Other stuff didn't work, so it is apparently time to start banging the Bible - or, er, Book of Mormon.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  7. John

    Keep God out of politics. We need a president that is not a socialist (Obama) and not a religious fanatic. But I guess that's what we are stuck with.

    I don't want either of them as my next president!

    September 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • mandfkiwsa

      John, I don't happen to agree that Obama is "socialist" - but don't forget that there are other parties and candidates you can vote for. Hope you have time to investigate other options. Our political campaigns are too much about big money and influence...

      September 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  8. TGIB

    His emphasis on God in everything turns me off to the GOP message entirely. Why? Because I'm Buddhist.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  9. Layne

    Does anyone else get the feeling the Romney campaign is desperate?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Only those who are conscious.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  10. Sueb

    Romney, you've been found out by a Jesuit priest no less. In the words of the Reverend Martin "Judge not that ye might not be judged. He might also have reminded you of the golden rule;' do unto others have you would have them do unto you' and the commandment 'thou shalt not bear false witness'.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  11. .

    I guess we know what the liberals think. I think we already knew. Does anyone care what they think? Does it even matter?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  12. Obama 2012

    If GOD forbid, Mitt the Twitt wins, will he place his hand on the Bible or the Book of Morman? Someone needs to ask him that question.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Sueb

      Why do I think that the evangelicals would flip out if Romney was asked that question and the answer was not the Bible.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  13. Pure Canadian

    as a Canadian all I can say is if you are a moron (excuse me, mormon) you are just as nutty as a muzzel em (pardon me, muzzlem, missle em, whatever) well they both start with the letter M

    September 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  14. El Flaco

    I agree. They theology of both religions is complete baloney. There is no Yahweh, no planet Kolob. Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian, and his bones are now beneath some parking lot in Jerusalem. Joseph Smith was a con-artist who came to believe his own lies after a time. However, both religions have produced some very positive behaviors in their believers.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • mandfkiwsa

      That's the difficulty with organized religion, El Flaco. Though religious symbolism and myths serve universal needs for meaning, standards of value, group protection and communion with others, when organized into formal religious systems almost always wend up propagandizing themselves, demonizing anyone outside the group, and turning their moral values into sets of blind and often antiquated rules and regulations.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  15. binreal

    I don't care about God talk; I care about God walk!
    "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" - James 2:26

    September 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • G

      HOO-RAH

      September 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  16. Winston5

    That's it Mitt. I mean that's really it. Just pander to your sad, fringe base since no one on the planet can give a scenario of you winning enough delegates to beat the potus. You're holding firm to your opinion that the auto bailout was wrong so you can already say GOODBYE to Michigan. You know, we call that a "swing state." And I'd really LOVE to hear more about your "faith." R. A. T.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I really think Mitt sealed his fate when he blasted off about these latest instances of unrest in the Middle East.

      If you can't say something intelligent, then shut up, Mitt.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  17. amazed2

    Who is that dude again on the top of your church there Mitt?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  18. JohnK

    You can bet that he won't be highlighting the stranger Mormon beliefs like God lives on a planet near the star Kolob, that Mormons should avoid boats because the devil lives in the water, you shouldn't pray to Jesus, and their use of "magic underwear".

    September 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • G

      And yes, what about "Lying for the Lord" and the theory of "Milk before Meat'? His approach to American people has been strongly influenced by Mormon dictates.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  19. Joe Blow

    Great, a nut ball in nut cake land.

    For a tax cheat that follows a made up religion created by a guy chased out of Illinois by a torch-wielding crowd, you have a lot to say about "god".

    September 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  20. El Flaco

    Obama is a Christian.

    Romney is not. Mormonism is a different religion with a different theology, different gods, and a non-Christian history. Mormons cannot recite the Nicene Creed. They do not believe in the Trinity. They do not believe that Jesus is a manifestation of God. Jesus was just a very good man, sort of like the Muslims think of Mohammed.

    It is merely a coincidence that many of the Mormon gods have the same names as Christian gods.

    Mormonism is no nuttier than Christianity, but it is not Christianity.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Winston5

      with respect, the Mormon dogma is no more believable than the christian one.

      September 14, 2012 at 7:42 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.