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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. Blue

    Mitt is nothing but a phony. I want to know, who in the hell does he think that he is? He is sissy and without a heart. Good grief, get this man off of the stage.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • sendai

      What has poor Mitt said or done to make you feel that way?

      September 15, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Athy

      He'll be off the stage in November.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  2. Sleepless in Cali

    Are ANY of you proud to be Americans? If not, why do you live here? You can leave anytime you choose. HOW would you like America to be different? As for me, I love my country - always have, always will. I'm so sorry for you if you don't. I ask: where would you go to find a more perfect place?

    September 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • snowboarder

      i love this secular country. why would anyone want to leave?

      September 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Californian insomniac

      We're all very proud to be Americans and very happy to live in a country founded on the principle of the doctrine of separation.

      God belongs in church – not in civics.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • harinder

      CANADA – CANADA – CANADA

      Not a perfect place never claimed to be one – all the freedom ome needs – FANTASTIC (not perfect)health care system – four season (where I live) a very diverse multicultural ethnic society – almost ;iving in harmony – politician not UP FOR SALE (again almost). Not too many NUT JOBS – and best of all we dont have RUSH LINMABUGH and the ilk.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • harinder

      CANADA
      Not a perfect place never claimed to be one – all the freedom ome needs – FANTASTIC (not perfect)health care system – four season (where I live) a very diverse multicultural ethnic society – almost ;iving in harmony – politician not UP FOR SALE (again almost). Not too many NUT JOBS – and best of all we dont have RUSH LINMABUGH and the ilk.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Patricksday

      Too bad Romney does not Love it as he has to put his riches in off shore banks rather than paying his fair share, and he thinks he is Honorable to be President of the United States? A man who wont reveal his tax returns for the last 10 years shows he is a man of deception and GREED. Let Mitt move to China, he seems to be creating more jobs for them and riches for CEO's off the backs of the slave labor market they have there.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  3. KC Yankee

    Mittens is done. He's just going through the motions now.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Patricksday

      Yes, kind of like when a Snake has his head cut off. I will be glad not to hear his whiny voice any more and his nervous Laugh, and flirting with the Camera like a 65 year old school girl, tilting his head and batting his eyes and looking around shyly. He and Paul make a cute couple.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  4. redlace

    I would prefer that Americans elect someone who uses reason and rational thought to guide his decision-making process. Deferring to fairy tales is a recipe for disaster. Faithers of any ilk do not belong in positions of authority anywhere in the world.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  5. fink romney

    The repubes ARE SO DESPERATE

    September 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  6. omenta

    God of the Mommons yah, the more he talks about God of the Mommons the more he alienates those who consider Mommon a cult, looser!

    September 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • snowboarder

      looser than what?

      September 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  7. Kate

    I suppose if you've got nothing to say, you can hope to win the Christian vote by using 'God' as a talking point.
    Personally, I never trust people who feel the need to constantly remind me what a good Christian they are; repeatedly recite bible verses; or wear religious symbols around their necks. I judge people by their actions, not by how they describe themselves. From what I've read about Mr. Romney, he doesn't sound like much of a Christian to me.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  8. jen

    oh good grief! are people seriously so ignorant that this pandering will work? if it isn't obvious by now that he will say or do ANYTHING to win, I actually feel sorry for you. he has no central core, only ambition.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Humanist11

      The people that think the world in only 5000 years old will. If you believe that then you can be talked into anything!

      September 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  9. Socialist Christ

    By God he really means money. That's the only God he's ever really bowed down to and prayed to.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  10. Patricksday

    People are seeing the wolves in the Sheep clothing, and poor Romney will never be hired as President of the United States, because the American people will do the hiring this time Mitt. You can have any faith values when your desire is for ultimate wealth, Greed, Selfishness and hording your riches in off shore banks to avoid sharing your fair share of taxes. If I pay 30% Mitt Romney should pay 30%. You want the Job show your income Tax for the last 10 years to show your a person of Integrity and Honor if you wish to lead the United States.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  11. Phil13

    One of the basic tenets of mormonism is they believe in establishing a theocracy in the US.
    Yet the press is letting Willard Romney skate on this and all other aspects of a religion founded by a phony prophet and a fraud. If Romney believes in this prophet and his fake golden plates etc he is either a fool or a huckster himself. Pick up a copy of "An American Fraud" where the author, a former Mormon herself, Kay Burningham, exposes the octopus like reach of this religion. If Romney becomes President, the LDS will really be in control. Look at Utah and how it is run. And don't be so foolish as to think it can't happen at the Federal level.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • snowboarder

      mormonism is just another denomination of christianity.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Primewonk

      One of the tenets of all the fundiot nutters is that they think, or want to make us, a theocracy. Why single out just the Mormon nutters?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  12. 351969

    The Tax/Draft evader and his lying pet weasel Eddie Munster are going to get buried.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  13. keyser

    Doesn't look to me that the lord god almighty is listening seeing as he is behind in the polls and all.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  14. CommonSenzzzz

    SHlTT ROBME is a God-fearing man? Maybe. But he sure isn't a job-keeping man... after off-shoring all those American jobs. Do you think this swine is really going to make things better? I have a bridge to sell you.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  15. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    I love the way the GOP surrogates aren't talking about East coast intellectual "elitists" anymore.

    Two years ago for the 2010 mid-term election, highly educated "elitists" is all the tea party and blow-hard mouth pieces on Fox like Sarah Palin could talk about.

    Now ... not even a whisper about highly educated 'elitists'. I wonder why?

    Perhaps it's because Mittens and the President BOTH have law degrees from Harvard. Romney's is a joint JD/MBA. I guess its OK to have a smart President once again.

    The blatent hypocrisy of these people is so galling.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • HoneyBooBoo

      Did you miss Santorum at the Value Voters hoe-down? He said that "The elitist smart people will never be on our side".

      It was quite funny that he insulted his own audience and then they applauded! Book learnin'? Not while we gots our buybull!

      September 15, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  16. bill bavis

    Romney brings him in to the picture and Obama tries to throw him out of the picture...

    One has his hands out and the other has his hands down...

    One never made a dime and the other has made too many dimes,

    One put people to work and one pay people not to work...

    September 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bill,

      this needs correcting: One put people to work and one pay people not to work...

      "One put people out of work and one works really hard to put people back to work."

      The net job loss in the United States directly due to Bain Capital (and all the other piratical hedge funds like them) is staggering.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • End Religion

      @beavis: "Romney brings him in to the picture and Obama tries to throw him out of the picture...
      One has his hands out and the other has his hands down...
      One never made a dime and the other has made too many dimes,
      One put people to work and one pay people not to work..."

      Romney bases decisions on imaginary beings. Obama agrees Church should remain separate from State.
      Romney has his hands in your pocket. Obama has his hands down his wife's pants.
      Romney is so afraid to admit how much money he's made and how he made it that he won't release his tax returns. Obama made a living as a director of a church-based community organization.
      Romney put people to work beneath him at Bain Capital, busily stealing the wealth of the country via hedge funds. Obama put people to work as well helping set up a job training program and a college preparatory tutoring program before entering law school.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  17. Mike Texoma

    I just keep remnembering how Jesus disliked hypocracy

    September 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Remember Gandhi's quote, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

      I'm betting Gandhi would think the same about these tea publicans.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Bob

      Too bad Gandhi's in hell.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • End Religion

      Bob, if Gandhi's in hell then you're welcome to your shameful heaven. It reveals how sick the whole twisted game of religion really is. It claims to be about love but is really only about grooming individuals into slavery to a cruel and violent imaginary buddy. Good sheep, gooooooood.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • sendai

      It is making Romney a loser. Impressively so.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • NEC

      Baloney, being an atheist isn't bad for children at all. Unless you were wanting to indoctrinate them into your cult!

      September 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Bob W

      when the GOP has nothing they run to GOD, GUNS and GAYs, well with Mitts you might not even have GOD, well you do if you count the sacred underwear, GAYs-wel another few years and that won't matter. That leaves guns and well that just isn't enough

      September 15, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Bob W

      which religin are you refering to
      Jewish
      Islam
      Budhist
      Shinto
      Hindi

      September 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • JPX

      Prayer changes nothing. It's just a simplistic way of thinking. Finish your G.E.D., dude.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • JPX

      I'm raising my kid to be an atheist and he's doing quite well. I feel sorry for the kids that grow up believing in make-belive.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Patricksday

      Its too bad that people feel they cant practice God in their own lives without it having to be cramped down everyones throat like every day is a Church day. Why does Romney feel the only way Americans can have God is if its mandated by Government?? This is the United States and we have a Seperation of Church and State, or we can pull the Tax Exempt Status and really rake in the money with these Mega Churches that only pay 11% of what they haul in to the Church its self. Then you can talk about God as much as you want.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      SPAM again?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  19. Come Again?

    Why did Ron Paul not get the GOP nomination again...?

    September 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Because his showing in the primaries sucked ?

      September 15, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Why did his showing in the primaries "suck" as you say?

      Because the GOP wants to marginalize libertariansim and kept Ron Paul in the wilderness. Ron Paul and libertarianism are the closest thing to the conservative movement of the post-war era – as represented by people like Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley. These principles should be the soul of the GOP. They are not.

      The GOP is lost trying to cater to the American Taliban who control most of their votes and split by infighting between neocons, crazy tea partyism, the Taliban theocrats and fiscal conservatists who can't decide whether their God is Ayn Rand or Ruch Limbaugh.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Paul is just another bathsit crazy fundiot nutter. He just wants the laws against science, and women, and gays, and blacks, etc., moved, written, and enforced at the state level instead of the federal level.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  20. pbi

    Playing to the "God" crowd. We don't need these extremists. They are not mainstream America.

    September 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @pbi,

      which extremists are you talking about?

      People who think their candidate should have the same religious beliefs that they do? There's an awful lot of Americans who think this way.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      What we don't need is religion of any kind. We would be foolish to continue making decisions about how to work with our world neighbors based on a sublimely cruel and divisive imaginary being.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:57 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.