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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. GI Joe

    WHITE nation? tell that to the Native Americans - the only true Americans.

    WHItE nation: tell that to Romney's father, who was born in Mexico, to a man who fled the law here for committing polygamy. Why was Romney's father allow to run for the presidency when he was born in Mexico? He LOOKED white.

    Therein lies the problem. People hate a half-black President. Tell me what is Christian about that? Tell me what color Jesus Christ was. Go ahead.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  2. GO_GOP

    Midwest Rail and Tom: Dare answer my questions logically and not by name calling. I dare you.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Already did. You just don't like the information because it shows you to be wrong. Boo hoo.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Re-read your own posts – you haven't asked ANY questions. All you've done is spout nonsense.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • End Religion

      @GOP: and what's worse is your poo looks.... odd. Might want to get that checked.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  3. Sleepless in Cali

    @GI Joe

    Romney worships $$$$$$$ and his ego while lying to the people of this country.

    He is a knee-jerk reactionary who will kill our kids in wars with every nation in the world. NO thanks.
    --------
    Really? Please explain how so.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Awake in California

      Did your "Reply" button fall asleep?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  4. Chris

    I really don't want to see that man become President. I don't care what his religious beliefs are – but the fact that he cares what MY religious beliefs are scares me.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  5. Sleepless in Cali

    APaul_I – You sound like a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    -------–

    Really? Please explain how so.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Romney worships $$$$$$$ and his ego while lying to the people of this country.

    He is a knee-jerk reactionary who will kill our kids in wars with every nation in the world. NO thanks.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  7. GO_GOP

    Tom: Denmark is a socialist country on the verge of collapse. And yes we are a CHRISTIAN WHITE nation – at least our founding fathers wanted it that way. It's a shame that in our quest to be politically correct we are moving away from that.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • midwest rail

      You should really stop now before you embarrass yourself further.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Denmark is in the same boat as nearly every other nations, you dolt, including US, and you're claiming that our "superior" belief in God is supposed to make us immune to such downturns. Not workin' real well for us, is it? Furthermore, this isn't a "white nation" you idiot and hasn't been one–ever. It's far more diverse now than ever and you'd better put on your big boy panties and get over it, because that isn't going to change.

      Grow up,

      September 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Denmark is a Christian country that's whiter than white.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Athy

      Geez, GO_GOP, you really are clueless, aren't you?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Surveys have shown that people in Denmark and Switzerland rate themselves as being very happy with their lives and quite content.

      Doesn't sound like things are going under to me.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      GO_GOP needs to have a cheese Danish or a Carlsberg or two and have a lie down.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I was in Denmark and then Norway earlier this year. Nice well-kept countries that make the US look like pisshole Murica.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Binreal

      You are a liar Satan! There is no Jesus in you!!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  8. Sleepless in Cali

    @Tom, Tom, the Other One –Lunesta works pretty well.

    ------
    It only works for those who sleep walk like you, or those hypnotized by the Obama fairy tale, OR those who crash their cars like that Kennedy dude, idiot!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm more into opiates. They take the edge off of the pain that comes from having wade through the drivel the Romney supporters are spewing. Romney will be history soon enough and then maybe we can move on and do some real and permanent good. Health care program firmly established, maybe some new faces on the Supreme Court. These are exciting times.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  9. GO_GOP

    I want a deeply religious man like Romney to take charge of this country. Not atheist, Godless nation has ever been successful. We became the greatest nation in the world by being the only true Christian, white nation in this world.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I think your hat's on far too tight.

      This was never a white nation and it isn't a theocracy. There are, in fact, numerous successful countries who are not religious; in fact, Denmark has one of the highest rates of personal satisfaction in the developed world. How do you explain that?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • pwilli

      Gott mit uns. Or "God with Us" was on every Nazi soldier's belt buckel.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Jbachman

      How come no one asks which God Romney worships; since the Mormon faith believes all who follow their doctrine can become gods of different universes? Hmm! I thought the First Commandment prohibited that.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jb,

      actually "what God is Mittens referring to?" is a very popular question. It occurs on every page here at least once.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • End Religion

      @GOP: "I want a deeply religious man like Romney to take charge of this country. Not atheist, Godless nation has ever been successful. We became the greatest nation in the world by being the only true Christian, white nation in this world."

      What is apparent is that above all you want attention. Of course you want a religious person at the helm. It's makes you feel less crazy in your delusions.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  10. Sleepless in Cali

    You people condemn Romney for his beliefs, which NOT ONCE denounce America and her values. Yet you turn a deaf ear to Obama's Jeremiah Wright, who curses America. What, in God's name, is wrong with you people? You all deserve a terrible war on your shores where you REALLY have to chose freedom over tyranny. But - most of you would probably wet your pants and hide in the sewers, rather than defend your country! A bunch of losers is what you all are!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Really Sleepless, Rev. Wright? So four years ago. Even Fox News has moved on from that story.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Lunesta works pretty well.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Jeremiah Wright is irrelevant. Get over it. You have no point.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional nonsense.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Awake in California

      Cali? Colombia?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      This same bozo was on here a while ago, burbling the same nonsense: "Rev. Wright said...." The guy acts like he's been asleep since the last election and just now came to.

      A few other issues have come up, Sleeper. Try to keep up with the news.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Awake in California

      p.s. and we don't call San Francisco "Frisco" either.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Paul_I

      You sound like a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  11. DJNAM

    As an Atheist, I would welcome the return of a certain amount of calming god-talk ... secular mumbo jumbo is dry, edgy, and boring ...

    September 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • yang

      as an athiest, i would welcome the return of Jesus. the man needs to get some things straight up in here.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • redzoa

      As an agnostic, I could support both of these notions; however, I can't be sure they'd have any real effect...

      September 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  12. Peter Wolfe

    Mr Romney has a funny way of showing his religious convictions to people with disabilities like myself because of the Ryan Plan will turn Medicaid into block grants. Poor states like Alabama and other southern states e.g. red states with the poor will have thier medical expendetures cut in half because of a. not increasing taxes on the wealthy b. unwillingness to cut more on the massive military complex c. reforming medicare and d. keeping useful control mechanisms in Obama-Care like individual mandate for health-care and etc. A second hing that I hate is Mr Romney's words on the record to not support federal research on Stem Cell just to get re-elected even though that is perhaps one of the only ways there will be cures for debeletating diseases like blindness. Thirdly, I hate how he feels that he can deny gays the right to marry even though they pay taxes and contribute to society that he very well knows for working with them in the work place, etc in Bain Capital. How would you feel being both of these groups of people in the 2012 election?

    September 15, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • End Religion

      Peter, sorry to hear about your disability. We're continuing to strive in this country to head in a more humanist direction. Vote for leaders who lean the most toward science. Let's end religion and it sadistic morals together.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    No-one denies that Mormons are good people, that they worship "a" god, that they share common words with Christians, that they help their people, and that they do many good things. But that isn't what makes someone Christian. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (NKJV). Becoming a Christian does not mean belonging to a church, doing good things, or simply believing in God. Being a Christian means that you have trusted in the true God for salvation, in the True Jesus – not the brother of the devil, not the god of Mormonism, not the gospel of Mormonism. Mormonism is false and cannot save anyone.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  14. Gimmeabreak!

    All of you morons demeaning Romney are truly IDIOTS! This man is an American with nothing but a set of solid American values and good intentions. Stupid, hate-filled goons! Just wait until our country turns into Greece! Happy life then - yeah, go ahead and suffer - no sympathy from me for YOUR stupidity! And, by the way, "god" or no "god" has nothing to do with it. You libs are a joke!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • yang

      no, you.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Don't be an asshole. Romney will not win. The economic recovery will continue, and we "libs" may wind up with a couple of additional seats on the Supreme Court.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • HoldenLitgo

      Σ' ΑΓΑΠΑΩ!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @GimmeGimmeGimme

      the only reason this country might turn into Greece is because of the stranglehold hedgefunds and banks have on companies that produce anything useful.

      All the Bain Capitals of Wall St. do is destroy companies that produce useful things for us to buy and create jobs in the process. And what are the most profitable companies in the US? Six of the top ten are oil/financial.

      1. Exxon Mobile
      2. Chevron
      3. Apple
      4. Microsoft
      5. Ford Motor
      6. J.P. Morgan Chase
      7. AIG
      8. Wells Fargo
      9. IBM
      10. Wal-Mart

      Apple is profitable because it manufactures nothing in the US.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      I know you are but what am I?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    the upcoming election will prove two points.
    (a) that christians are believers according to convenience, and
    (b) that republican christians are republicans first and christians second

    Romney is a mormon which is a religion that, as well as co-optingsome parts and characters from the bible word for word, also contradicts and makes a mockery of so many key christian religious beliefs that it should be a bigger issue to christians than gay marriage and abortion. But ... the same way as christians always pick and choose which parts of the bible to loudly proclaim and which parts of the bible to pretend don't exist ... they will ignore all these issues and vote for Romney anyway.

    What do you think God/Jesus will think of you if you give your vote to a man who truly believes that he will one day be a God? Or a man who truly believes that Joseph Smith, a 19th century reknowned con-man, is an equal of Jesus?

    Go on christans, pretend you never read this post. Find some obscure bible quote that will justify you supporting a cult. What a joke!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  16. Greg

    I think most voters are smart enough to see past this sad attempt to trick religious voters into ignoring real issues.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      "most voters" believe in an imaginary sky fairy. i think you may be giving them too much credit toward their critical thinking skill.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  17. ReaganDem

    Romney is a man acting our of desperation, but why? His campaign insists that the race is a dead heat. Does he really think that pouring on the negativity this late in the race is going to change the less than 6% in some swing states who have not made up their minds?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  18. karina

    only problem is, Jesus would not own a gun and vote Republican!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      jesus would sell his last bit of clothing for a gun.
      "Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36

      September 15, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • JesusinGethsemane

      Jesus in Gethsemane preached nonviolence and himself never owned a sword, nor taught others to live by it (Matt. 26:52)

      September 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • End Religion

      I just showed you that Jesus commanded you to sell your clothes and buy a weapon. Don't you believe in the bible?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  19. mark

    "Well, I guess nothing else has worked...."

    September 15, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  20. ReaganDem

    Romney has lost perspective, direction and control of his own campaign. We are wittnessing perhaps the beginning of the end of his run, if he does not stop chasing stories and start telling his story and what he plans to do. He needs to stop pandering to a group whom we assumed he already had there support. What does it mean to keep God part of our nation? Who's God Romney? Stop this nonsense before you alienate some of the very people you're trying to persuade. Not all Chistians are norrow minded religious zealots. that believe that Christianity is the end of and be all of all religions.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Romney can't keep his base together without avoiding or dissimulating every issue of any importance to voters. He can't be candid about his religion: he is not an Evangelical Christian – not Christian at all to Christians who believe in the Trinity. He can't bring up his record as governor: too moderate. He can't advance an economic plan because the required austerity measures and, ultimately, higher taxes an effective plan might entail offends people of his own economic class and the rest of us too. Foreign policy? How did that trip to Europe go?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
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About this blog

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.