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. End Religion

    The outcome of the election does not depend on nor bear witness to the desires of any god.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  2. nobikiniatoll

    Even God's gonna have a hard time saving Mitt Romney from himself.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  3. babooph

    Bishop Romney is "omitting " GODS-he gets to be on the council to choose who will become a God & will be one of them himself,odd he leaves this important honor off his resume of,Governor,businessman & olympic planning success-I guess it is just an "s" he is leaving off...If I were a future God going against a mere mortal,it would be on my resume...unless I were sneaky about it...& hiding it...

    September 14, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  4. Um...no

    Yet one more reason to NOT vote for Romney. He'll (notice the spelling Romney) will even use God for power.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  5. Chris Keal

    Vote pandering. Nothing more.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  6. manhandler1

    He's talking about God so much now because it's gonna take an Act of God for him to win the presidency.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • klheitz

      Jesus talked more about money than anything else except the Kingdom of God. Facts; In 11 of 39 parables he talked about money. In 1 out of every 7 verses in the Gospel of Luke he talked about money.

      To keep 'God' on money seems to be an offense to God ...

      September 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  7. End Religion

    interesting mormon show...

    September 14, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  8. buffalo

    Freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion. TAX ALL CHURCHES.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • binreal

      As a follower of Christ, I would disagree with you - IF - churches stayed to their true mission of helping others in need and preaching and teaching their doctrine.

      If churches, pastors, etc., want to stray from their roots of love and charity to all like Jesus did and play and delve into politics - I am in complete agreement with you - tax 'em!!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  9. Nietodarwin

    I wonder if Romney even knows that the words "Under god" were put in during the Eisenhower years.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  10. Mike

    I'm really beginning to think I have to vote for Obama. I wasn't really comfortable with Romney keeping his money out of the country. I don't like that Romney refuses to release his tax information. I don't like that he hasn't said anything that I can recall about exactly what he plans to do to tackle any of the country's problems. I sure didn't like what he said this week about the mess in the Middle East and not supporting our people over there. And now all this stuff about religion is just too wierd for me.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • David A


      September 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  11. hooah

    I'm praying to his god to let that goob lose.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  12. No Holy War

    Great timing once again by this idiot – just what we need while on the brink of an all-out Holy War in the Middle East. If he was a true patriot he would ratchet down the rhetoric until this situation passes. Or at least allow the President to do his job while it's still his to do.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  13. Jesus was a hunchback

    Mormons believe that when you die, you become a god and get your own planet. True.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  14. Roger

    Yeah, that's just wonderful. We can see how well all those other God-based governments work. So Romney thinks we should give it a try as well.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  15. Confused

    For a man so devoted to God, he sure does say a lot of things that aren't true. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Ring a bell?

    September 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  16. ivan bial

    Willard liks G_D talk..so do I:

    Oh please G_D keep willard far away from being President.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  17. Separation of church and state

    I see all of this debating about God, but this conversation has no place in government. Romney says he will not "take God out of the public square." God is not supposed to be in the public square for a politician. There is a separation of church and state in this country. In fact, back in 1776, the pilgrims were esacping a society in which they had to believe in one, and only one faith. I don't understand why there is any debate about any religion in our discussion of elected officials.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • binreal

      I don't understand the delusion myself....

      September 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  18. Lizzy10

    You know what shocks me? That any candidate would try and stress (force) a Christian religion on a country that was founded on Freedom of Religion. I believe in God, but I will defend anyone who does not. That's the way this country rolls, so if Romney can't understand that, he shouldn't be President.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • binreal

      Thank you Lizzy!!! I a believer and follower of Christ, but strongly believe in the separation of church and state! My relationship with the Lord is PRIVATE - and I will defend another American's rights to believe (or not believe) in any god.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • yogi

      Great Post! In addition, God doesn't care what religion you have, we are all His favorites, and Romney should absolutely leave God out of the discussion, period! God does care if you lie, and Romney practices that on a daily base, so much so that he is completely confused of where honesty is.
      Obama rarely talks about God in public because it is a very private relationship.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  19. Wow

    Whatever happened to the separation of Church and State. Wow.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  20. Bhawk

    If Mitt loses does that mean God wanted Obama and not Mitt. Does it cast doubt on him as a religous person and not dedicated to the Christ. Look at this–which seems the most logical–God speaks to person through magic hat and one wears magic underwear or God sends angel as a messanger and then summons him with Moses to Heaven for instructions. God takes person into heaven for 300 years then returns him. If you select the last two events that is in Islam and Judism–magic hat man is Mormonism.
    Just a side note–on this date in 1901 President McKinnley died after being shot by a supporter of Ron Paul on Sept 6th.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • dirtpickle

      Excellent comment Bhawk but I think this clown is pandering since his other outbursts didn't get him any votes. Go with God it equals votes!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:07 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.