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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. Harry Callahan

    Sure, And when Jesus returns to Missouri, he will thank Romney...I'm not being funny! It's what the Mormons believe, Look it up! Religion is fine and everyone has the right to believe their way, but you all better understand what Romney's beliefs are, or "be surprised what you get"! Do your home work people! Don't let the media brainwash you, double check everything!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  2. Johnny 5

    I'm not a fan of Obama but at least he doesn't believe in this nonsense.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  3. c s

    Thus Bishop Romney says. What do you expect from a Bishop; even a Bishop in Mormon church? Maybe Romney should understand that the US is not theocracy. Maybe he should move to Iran or Saudi Arabia where church and state are the same. So if you want a theocratic President, vote for Romney/Ryan.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  4. chedar888

    The mormons is ever confused. Can we marry an underage girls or not? Can we have muultiple wife or not. Will my magic underwear work or not? Go ask Bush how he trick people into getting his dad and him elected ( The Jesus Factor hah?) Its a one trick pony Romney, I don;t know if there are still enough goof balls out there to vote for you,

    September 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • buzz

      Mormonism is a cult, not a religion. Let's get this clear.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Ticktockman0

      Religions are just cults that have achieved a degree of popularity.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  5. demrules

    Since Romney has gained the "tongue in cheek" friendship of the Evangelicals (the same ones who declared that Mormonism is a cult), he has convinced himself that he is the one to become "Pastor In Chief" of the U.S.. His desperation and that of the GOP has become a little too smelly for thinking people to even try to keep up with. So, I say just let Willard have his day in the sun with the rest of his "good ole boy" supporters, and the rational thinkers (a.k.a. 99% ) will just stick with Mr. Obama!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  6. Joel

    When none of your practical ideas gain you enough support, try to convince people that God is on your side. Your desperation is transparent, Mitt.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  7. tony marchese

    I'll say it again! Patriotic rich class for most part HIDE their young men from miitary service especially with the cloak of religion!! Also do their best not to pay taxes!!! Why does this FACT escape the media?? I think I know the answer..."Birds of a feather flock together." Do I need to say it again???

    September 15, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • chedar888

      I don;t respect Romney not just because he is mormon. He is just not a presidential material. He is rich and so is Jon Huntsman, his fellow mormon. But Gov and Amb Huntsman gets my respect. He has only two sons and are both in the Navy. Romney's 5 sons are doing great next to papa warm and cozy;

      September 15, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  8. Daniel

    maybe got will fix the economy?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Or did he cause it in the first place as 'punishment for our sins'? 😉

      September 15, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  9. sosume

    When all else fails, try to convince the gullible that God is in your corner. This is getting pathetic.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  10. q

    Hey Mittens where are those tax returns buddy.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Giao Hoan

      GOD said : Romney, Let me tax returns GO 😉

      September 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  11. reg

    Romney makes George W Bush look presidential.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  12. Giao Hoan

    Romney pledged to keep God on U.S. currency: DUH ! any one care to guess who is MoRonmey's real god is ? $$$ 😉

    September 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  13. GOD spoke to me.

    And said to vote for Obama.

    I win right?

    September 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • God

      It's true. I did. Tomorrow I will help several guys score touchdowns. It's what I do.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • GOD spoke to me.

      Hehe... have we met?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  14. RC

    Quite franklly, I wish someone would ask him if the God he prays to believes that Mormons are the ONLY people saved, and the rest of us (The lost ones) have to be Mormon to go to heaven? Is that the God he is referring to in his statements?

    September 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  15. tepeters

    A prayer is about the only chnace he has got left to try and win

    September 15, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • mrprincipal03

      Wow!!!! This guy is powerful or has delusions of grandeur. Thinks he can control God. Well more power to him.

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

    Athy you are correct and now I can sleep better tonight knowing at my ripe old age of 76 yrs. I stand corrected but probally have more knowledge and general experience than many who share so much dribble on these sites.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Athy

      It's "drivel", not "dribble". How can you be 76 and not know that?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      @mama: a tip... in the future, claim "I've forgotten more in my life than many have learned." That way, when you horribly misspell things and use words that don't exist you can always fall back on the "forgotten" part.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  17. taz111111111

    All the posters of Romney really give me a laugh. To them it's okay to write about anything silly that comes to their feeble little minds negatively about Romney, these are the same people that spewed garbage about Bush. But if you utter one negative about Obama, then you are motivated by racism, or you are a religious nutjob, or you a hater. Liberals always cry about wanting their opinions heard, but don't want to hear any other opinions.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Athy

      It's simply because Mittzi is a much bigger target.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Ok, lets look at the facts then and make our own opinions from there.

      Bush – Led is into 2 expensive wars with no exit strategy, insti.tuted policies that ran our economy into the ground and ruined america's image worldwide by the idiotic things he said and did.

      Obama – hasn't been the savior we had all hoped and has balked on some campaign promises, however he has helped our economy recover, slowly, killed osama, finally updated our country on healthcare, has a stellar foreign policy record.

      Romney – Plastic cut out of a man who has no idea how to empathize with the common voter, has a great record as governor that he adamantly denies because embracing that record would make him a moderate. Believes in Mormonism (which in my own opinion is FU.CKING NUTS), says he wants to make america right again but has yet to give a single detail on his plan.

      People like you whine and complain about the "liberals" that badmouth the republicans and feel like your hands are tied behind your back because you think we would yell racism if you badmouth him (which is not true unless the shoe fits). So tell me, How is Bush in any way a good president? How has Obama been a terrible president and why should Romney be elected even though he has 0 details on how to actually fix anything.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Blackadder

      Romney poster? A Romney poster would show more honesty and sincerity than Romney himself.

      Oh, and judging by the tone of your comment, I am sure you are open to differing opinions yourself.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • GOD spoke to me.

      And said "Watch FOX NEWS. IT IS FAIR AND BALANCED".

      Opinions are one thing but the right-wingnuts are off the scale with some of the stuff they manufacture. That's why it's called FAUX News.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  18. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago**; and that other things, like god, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Sometimes, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). Sometimes, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Religions are just big old evil clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division along the way (disguised as love).

    So instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

    ** (yes, charlatan spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think it hadn't?)

    mama kindless

    September 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  19. raymond fernandes

    Remember Jerry Mcguire::::::::SHOW ME THE TAX RETURNS [ MONEY ]

    September 15, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  20. momof2kiddos

    God needs to stay out of politics.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      More like silly believers should stop bringing their imaginary friends into serious conversations.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • GOD spoke to me.

      And said "Amen".

      GOD also said "Romney must release his tax returns. The truth shall set you free!"

      September 15, 2012 at 10:01 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.