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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. IslandAtheist

    Not even his imaginary friend can help him now.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  2. GonzoG

    I don't mind when someone has a personal Faith. I really have issues when people think that THEY have God on their side and are authorized to speak for the Almighty.

    I especially worry when they are seeking positions of power.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • CraigRB

      It's because he's a major phony. Real men of God don't need to bring him into political discourse to score points.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Larry

      ...to GonzoG.... Perfect!!!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  3. Humanist11

    If the GOP is God's party then why did God let a Mormon win the primary instead of a real Christian? If there was a God (there isn't) we would just be his entertainment.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Giao Hoan

      REnt a Mormon if you can't find a man decent enough from your own RIGHT wing 😉

      September 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Ken

      So what! I would expect nothing less from the State controlled media to bring this up. And yes, there is a God. But for me to prove it beyond the shadow of (your) doubt, I cannot. My belief is based on faith. My faith allows for the respect of others beliefs and opinions. Not the intollerance of the fringe or radical elements of society.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  4. Gn in Oklahoma

    I've voted Republican for the last 2 elections and was undecided on who to vote for this round. I've had it with the republicans religious demagoguery and their constant appeals to how we all need to bow down to their imaginary friend. I'm voting for Obama, this "public square" God B.S. is the last straw for me, Can't believe 'm forced to vote for Obama – something I would have never believed I would do.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Humanist11

      You could vote a write-in for Thomas Jefferson like I will probably do.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Big Johnson

      You don't have to vote for Obama.... Vote for Gary Johnson! It disgusts me that I really only have two choices. And both stink! I am voting for Gary because I feel he is the only real hope our nation has...

      September 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Humanist11

      Big J. Gary is the other guy I was thinking about too. Just think if he were allowed to participate in the debates and force the candidates to discuss real issues. It would change the election and possibly our country.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Gn in Oklahoma

      I don't think any 3rd party qualified for my state's ballot. Another reason I have never liked the electoral college system.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      If anyone does not want Mitt The Half Wit Twit to win, they really should cast a vote for Obama. Anything else just opens the door to Mr. Magic Underpants.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  5. Giao Hoan

    Keep gOD card around in case: you are behind the poll or you are caught doing the nasty . You can throw gOd around like a bone to the mindless pack 🙂

    September 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  6. CraigRB

    It's shameful to bring God into the political arena, it's just not right and I really resent it. My relationship with God is a very personal and grateful one and sleazy politicians should stay away from the subject. Romney is nothing but a big phony.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  7. D. Mama

    Aburt Thank you for understanding what I was talking about. I find it unbelievable how people are so easily brain washed into believing all the garbage they hear. When did people stop thinking for themselves. It boggles this idiots mind!!!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • mccgeno

      The GOP has absolutely no respect for their voter's intelligence. If I was a republican, I would be extremely insulted by all their parties blatant lies, flip-flopping, and distortion of facts.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "The GOP has absolutely no respect for their voter's intelligence."
      You're right! In fact they have no respect toward any of the middle class, because if they did, they wouldn't trash the middle class for the fat cats of the corporate Mafia. But because they know that many feed like dumb sheep on streaming propaganda fed through airwaves bought by their $$$$$, they are more then pleased to exploit them for their own purposes. They capitalize on people's ignorance. And the " fields are full of harvest" for them, that's for sure!

      September 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  8. ed

    This man has sold his soul to the GOP right wing crazies.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Ken

      And BHO has sold his soul to the left wing crazies. Btw...since you refer to soul, I assume you believe in a God.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • GOD spoke to me.

      And said "You're all fools. I AM MADE in YOUR IMAGE".

      September 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  9. rob

    Pathetic.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  10. No-one-to-vote-for

    If what we here have on this blog is a cross section of American public and their views, it is obvious why we as Country are in the shape that we are!

    September 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  11. laird

    This man is a phony and a fraud.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Ken

      And BHO has perpetrated the biggest fraud on this Country aided by his Hollywood buddies and the state controlled media. Frankly, they should all be held accountable.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      I love how Ken capitalizes country as if it gives the word extra powers direct from heaven (you know, similar to how christards capitalize the words god and him and truth all the time).

      September 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • GOD spoke to me.

      Ken is right. I was at the meeting here in Hollywood. They said we have to do everything Obama tells us, because the gum'mint pays our welfare salaries. But not FOX, there on the corporate payroll, so they are exempt. LOL... fools.

      Really, maybe just a bit paranoid there Ken?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  12. SSampson

    Excellent – But frankly not even Hitchens is rolling in his grave on this one (primarily because there IS no God – ergo no conciousness to induce said rolling)

    The founders wanted to make sure that religion played no part in the political forum.... and yet here we are – Support the founders for the right to bear arms (of course they were refering to flint-locks).... but we don't when it comes to religion...

    If this crazy – or any other religious kook enters the oval office, this country will be over. Sure, we've had believers in the past, but not the extremely nutty ones (in that anyone that believes is, in fact, insane)

    And as religions go – the Mormons are up there with Scientology... not that I don't thing the others are THAT much different. Orthodox, Christians, Jews and Muslims are up there with another famous cult – the Manson family...

    September 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Roy

      I understand what cult means, if you going to label a religion as a cult you better fess up what you mean clearly. Furthermore your understanding as to God is totally clueless, you have no indepth understanding of the Holy Scriptures in both its orginal Hebrew and Grrek text and furthermore just for clarity, secular history and bibical history have clearly shown the authenticity and elastiscity and couple with irrefutable evidence the realiability of the Bible.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Roy – from Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people:

      Cult: :
      1. formal religious veneration : worship
      2. a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
      3. a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents

      See, all religions are cults.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Roy, every religion fits the definition of a cult. You just don't want your, perhaps mainstream, cult lumped in with the really crazy cults like mormonism. And given that there is not a single shred of evidence for the existence of any god, The Babble should only be considered an old book of bad fiction.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  13. youreyesareweird

    I don't get why Christians want their holy deity smeared across the face of the most visible symbol of greed, power, violence, and corruption; MONEY. Really Christians? You want to relate Christianity with Money??

    September 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  14. GBfromOhio

    His desperation at this point is truly embarrassing.

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

    Mitt the Moron is talking about God? First, Romneycare, then the foreign policy blunders. Now his faith will be placed under a microscope and will scare away the bible belt.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  16. Bible just a theory

    Very appropriate for a candidate of GOD'S OWN PARTY. Why doesn't he use his MAGIC MORMON POWER to lower the unemployment rate? Oh, sorry, I forgot, it's more important to him to get elected, so he wants as much economic pain as possible until election day.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  17. cynthia

    For definition of hypocrite, pandering and twisting beliefs see Mitt Romney. He's fudging a bit on Mormon teachings and disparately bending over for the extremists of the Christian right. Perhaps they should take off their narrow-minded and arrogant blinders, read/comprehend the First Amendment and the comments of 'Mr. Conservative' Barry Goldwater, who warned the GOP almost 40 years ago that letting the Christian Right take over the party would not only ruin the GOP, but bring nothing but grief to the US. NOTE: the addition of 'Under God' and the reference to religion on our money wasn't included until the 1950's when Joe McCarthy was using lies and hate rhetoric to build up a frenzy in the country. Looks like the GOP has revived Joe's tactics. Shame on them and shame on us for staying silent, disregarding everything the designers of our reasoned and well-thought democratic/republic.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • sendai

      Mitt Romney may not be a Christian, but we shouldn't fault him for that. He is a really lousy pet owner. People should remember what he did to his dog. That's how he will treat the people in our society that don't matter to him.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  18. Gimmeabreak!

    @D.Mama - WHAT are you taking about? Idiot! Furthermore, YOU need to go back to school to learn how to spell - GEEZE!

    September 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  19. Gimmeabreak!

    You Romney "mittens" people truly are idiots! AND - you are pathetic and have NO idea how the world works!

    September 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      Please educate us as to how the world works.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      Are you saying Romney people are idiots or the people calling Romney "mittens" are idiots? LOL

      Hmmm, maybe I AM an idiot! It wouldn't surprise me... LOL

      September 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Athy

      So please enlighten us, Gimmee. How does the world work?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Ken

      Is that right. Please enlighten all of us with your sage wisdom. But you probably can't without resulting to insults, sterotypes, etc.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  20. D. Mama

    To the morons out there who beleive our President is not an American -–I have this to tell you. Many yrs ago my dad worked at Pratt & Whitney Air Craft.He was called into the office one day nd was confronted by the FBI seems they couldnt account for a year of his life. In the end it turned out to be nothing. So do all the disbelievers really think if he was not born in the states or is anything other than what he says the gov. is well informed! !! Trust me if they were checking on a lowly factoy orker they certainly know the true facts!!!!about our President!

    September 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • D. Mama

      If you think a few spelling erros make me out to be an idiot! Take a good look in thr mirror. ? I guess I know what you believe and your the idiot!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • aburt

      I understand exactly what you are saying, years ago I had a security clearance as a machinist and i went thru all that stuff,,it is amazing how much so little so many people in this country understand about most things, and the scary thing is ,,,,, they can vote... thanks for your comment

      September 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "If you think a few spelling erros make me out to be an idiot! "
      D.Mama, you'd be surprised how many self absorbed brats come here, having their heads so swollen by their "knowledge", they think that they hold the bluprint of The Universe in their heads. This generation is slowly becoming one that could surely fit the ti.tle of Generation of educated fools!

      September 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Athy

      It's "you're", not "your". This isn't a spelling error, you spelled the word right, it's just the wrong word.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • End Religion

      @prism: its nothing special to understand how the universe formed. It's in plenty of factual books on the subject. Just because you personally don't understand it doesn't mean as a people we don't understand it.

      Now if you want to talk about what initiated the big bang (which led to the formation of our universe and to the evolution of our species), then you have an interesting question. We currently have the "something rather than nothing" theory from Lawrence Krauss. Others have the "god" theory, which has continually pushed back further and further as we've come to understand our universe. With the Krauss theory we have math and science which lead us to this probable beginning, whereas the god theory is basically "we don't know so let's say it was magic."

      We as humans have a long history of laying things we don't understand at "god's feet" or just plain magic. As we've come to factually understand these things, however, god is pushed further back. This is known as "god of the gaps" – mankind has filled in the gaps of his knowledge with "god did it" until each unknown is successively understood from a scientific standpoint. We used to think thunder and lightning was god but now realize its hot/cold fronts meeting and then production of electricity. We thought volcanoes and earthquakes meant an angry god before we came to understand the pressure building within the earth's core and its release was the cause. There are very, very few gaps remaining for god to fill. In some circles, there is only one gap left: big bang initiation.

      Because we have continually been able to find a reality-based cause for the things we've previously attributed to god, we're confident we'll find another for that last gap. But we don't know, anymore than you do, at this point. We're just pretty sure that based on what we've learned in the past we don't need to bother laying it at god's feet.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • End Stupidity!

      !

      September 15, 2012 at 11:07 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.