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. Scott

    He sounds a lot like a mullah.

    September 16, 2012 at 6:03 am |
  2. truthbetold

    Which god is he talking about? As far as I know all the presidential candidates are related. Look it up. Obama is related to the Bushs and Romney is also in the 13 bloodlines. Look up the 13 bloodlines and you will find his god, and theirs.

    September 16, 2012 at 5:57 am |
  3. It's almost like . . .

    God sure puts up a lot of losing candidates. And God's candidates who wim, like W, sure turn out to be major losers.

    It's almost like there isn't any god. Almost exactly like that.

    September 16, 2012 at 5:37 am |
  4. Mark Smith

    This guy belongs to a cult, joseph smith is his god! And in the end he will say, joseph told me to do it! You would have to be a retard to vote for him!

    September 16, 2012 at 4:59 am |
  5. Curt

    Great quote @areukiddnme from above...

    "Because God said 'if you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy of God'
    Matthew 6:24"

    September 16, 2012 at 4:55 am |
  6. Steve

    He's more worried about God then balancing the books.

    September 16, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • areukiddnme

      who is Mitt's Master? God or money? He sure has a lot of money, for a bible man. How can you be a money man, and still know the sufferings of Christ and live a life of suffering as He did when you are a billionaire 'in the world'...

      So is the world a friend of Romney's? Because God said 'if you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy of God'
      Matthew 6:24

      September 16, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  7. Chris33

    "Bain Capital was nothing more than a bunch of rich guys who figured out clever ways to drain companies dry and walk away leaving the employees with nothing." – Newt Gingrich 2012

    September 16, 2012 at 4:10 am |
  8. Davidbiz

    Again!!! God has NO place in these campaigns anyway! Whether they like it or not, and regardless of your religious beliefs, there is such a thing as separation of church and state! It's there for a REASON! Religion is fine as a way you personally and PRIVATELY go about you business. It gives people solace and comfort BUT it can never be forced on people, nor does it have any business in the running of the country or a State! Those who may be skeptics, Atheists, Agnostics...etc...are made to feel disenfranchised by all this rhetoric, which is precisely WHY Thomas Jefferson came up with it in the first place. To insist on a large presence of God in the running of the country, is forcing your religion on many who choose not to believe. This makes us hypocrites!

    September 16, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Janis Byrnes

      I agree. We must maintain separation of church and state.

      September 16, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  9. Garnet

    Weird how the religious right has embraced Mitt, since they have called Mormonism a cult.

    September 16, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  10. Don Jones

    Romney is taking a cue from the Texas Village Idiot (G W Bush) and playing the God card. He knows he can tap into the ignorance and hypocrisy of the "religious right". We saw what 8 years did for us during that illustrious tenure. Get ready for Bush 3.0.

    September 16, 2012 at 3:47 am |
  11. kellyf

    Ah...the most perfect example of taking the Lords name in vain...

    September 16, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  12. Chris33

    Mitt Romney = Gordon Gekko = Michel Milken a real Vulture Capitalist, who did

    business with Mitt Romney, and ended up in prison...

    Mitt Romney and Bob Diamond of Barclay Bank manipulating the
    LIBOR rates to make millions in illegal profits...Bob Diamond was Mitt's
    fund raiser is just like...

    Ken Lay and ENRON energy traders
    manipulating the National Electrical Power Grid to drive up energy
    prices and steal $67 Billion from California alone..Ken Lay was
    G.W.Bush's biggest campaign contributor, by far...

    Once the GOP come up with a Cash machine they use it over, and over again..

    September 16, 2012 at 3:43 am |
  13. Chris33

    Romney doesn't want to talk about his governorship because he left with a 34% approval rating.

    Romney doesn't want to talk about Bain Capital because he looted American companies and shipped their jobs overseas.

    Romney doesn't want to talk about his religion because its a weird cult.

    Romney doesn't want to talk about his taxes because he supervised the biggest tax fraud in American history at Marriott.

    September 16, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Don Jones

      Romney doesn't like it when you ask him what's on his mind because he's not quite sure what it is.

      September 16, 2012 at 3:49 am |
  14. Peter Wolfe

    If your a rational and sensible individual, you can tell there really isn't even an option out of the two candidates. Who would turn back the hands of time on Stem Cell federal research, alternative energy loans, repealing of No Child Left Behind, Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, Lily Ledbedder Act, Dodd-Frank Financial regulations and the Affordable Care Act for pre-existing conditions with an individual mandate would be none other than Mitt Romney. In the next election lots are at stake for us democrats for Supreme Court candidates appointments, inplementation of the Affordable care affect, repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act! and a more comprehensive deal to resolve the deficit and debt within a ten or so time frame. Personally the portion about the Defense of Marriage Act seems most rewarding! Anyways, I be somebody on here to the dollar on donating to Obama's candidacy like $10.00 now for a quick pledge!

    September 16, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  15. tommkatts

    Mitt Romney's and Osama Bin Laden's religious values have a lot in common.

    The primary difference in their beliefs is the way they spell the name for the thing that drives them... Bin Laden spells it "Prophet" and Mitt Romney spells it "profit". Other than that what they want to do to America is exactly the same.

    Doesn't "Mammon" and "Mormon" sound eerily the same? Hang on...I need to look in my hat and check the spelling...where IS my magic rock when I need it....

    September 16, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  16. blerg

    well duh! that's how you win elections.

    September 16, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  17. Cathy

    Sorry Mitt, even God cant save your floundering campaign. Why don't you try and finish the race with dignity instead?

    September 16, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  18. sandpen4

    Seniors, Vets, and citizens better be on HIGH ALERT Rum-knee is planning another wounded knee for all of us.

    September 16, 2012 at 3:04 am |
  19. Chris33

    If a Republican president saved GM, got Bin Laden in a special opts, gave the biggest working class tax cut in American history, signed a bill authorizing the reduction of spending by 15%, all the while reversing the most devastating economic collapse in 80 years....the Republicans would hail him as the Second Coming of Christ!

    September 16, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • BJ

      I don't really feel like arguing everything, but where is this bill Obama signed that cuts spending by 15%? Ohhhh, you mean to our defense? Because otherwise Obama has increased spending like crazy! He has nearly added $6 Trillion to our national debt in 4 years....compared to the $4 Trillion that Bush added in his entire 8 years!! That is $6 Trillion that Obama has added to our $16 Trillion total national debt. Do the math, that is a major percentage! Major! On top of all that, Obama not only broke the Trillion dollar threshold in deficit spending....but he TRIPLED IT!!!

      Give him 4 more years! No way! Imagine where we are going on this track!! Historians will forget all about Bush, believe me!

      September 16, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • kellyf

      @BJ You've been watching too much Faux News. Bush wrote blank checks that Obama had to then put into the budget and pay for.....please educate yourself and stop watching spin.

      September 16, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • Dippy

      And please, BJ. Don't capitalize trillion. It makes you appear even dumber than you really are.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  20. sandpen4

    Rumknee should know by now, especially since he is suppose to be so religious, that God does not play DICE, POKER, OR SHOOT CRAP.

    September 16, 2012 at 3:00 am |
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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.