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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. hudson5585

    DeMoss: Romney IS desperate now. YOU are desperate too. You are will cling to any subject to see if you can score points. You would eleven make stuff up. Truth and higher purpose means nothing to Romney and his campaign. God save the USA.

    September 16, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Linda

      So true & so disgusting. This guy will say & do anything to get a vote. He is disgraceful.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  2. MalcomR

    Const.i.t.utional amendment to clarify amendment 1 and ban religion from political discourse. Our 21st century technological society is being largely informed and influenced by 2000yr-old fairy tales. I guarantee that ALL xians still picture jesus in a cloud wearing his desert robes and sandals. And he's a white european male. Childish and stupid? Without a doubt. Culturally required? Absolutely. For the sake of our future, we need secular, rational, compassionate humanistic debate on the real issues that affect all people.

    September 16, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • politicalsleuth

      You said it. Romney is simply a pandering fool and the sad part, people actually buy into it.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  3. Dave Harrris

    He must think he's still in the primary. Pandering to hyperreligious nut jobs is not going to get him the votes he needs to win the election. Anybody who thinks that there's some God who wants Mittens to be president is already going to vote for him.

    September 16, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  4. really

    I wonder how Mitt would react if Obama stood up and said, "I will not take Zeus out of my heart, I will not take Zeus out of the public square, and I will not take it out of the platform of my party."

    Wouldn't THAT be absurd? Now you know how the rest of us feel about your sky fairy ramblings.

    September 16, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  5. Meh

    Mitt, what a clown.

    September 16, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  6. Wynter

    Mittens talks at "god college". Can someone tell me HOW that is supposed to help him garner more votes? I guess no one ever explained to him that he is supposed to appeal to the average American undecided voter to get elected. But he seems to still be stuck talking it up with his base so they don't stop loving him... This is such a train wreck of a campaign.

    September 16, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • okiejoe

      If God didn't exist we would have invented him.
      So we did.

      September 16, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  7. ElmerGantry

    People should check out Mormonism

    For instance, Romney believes he will be a god of his own planet

    Romney believes there are three levels of heaven; Celestial (first class), Terestrial (cabin), and Telestial (steerage).
    Romney as a Mormon born, faithfully tïthing, wealthy person is obviously headed for the first class level. Nothing but the best for Mitt, right?

    And, which level do you think all of the "you people" out there will go to? Care to take a guess?

    Mormons believe the garden of Eden was in Missouri. So the bronze age tribal Jewish sailed the the middle east?

    Mormons believe that a Jewish tribe sailed East (back to?) America and populated (repopulated) the Americas and that Native Americans are of Jewish descent contrary to all archeological, linguistic, and genetic evidence. Who need science? Is Mitt a person who should be appointing people to scientific positions?

    Mormons also believe that Hawaiians travelled from the Americas to Hawaii and are also of Jewish descent. Again contrary to all archeological, linguistic, and genetic evidence. Once again who needs science when it contradicts you beliefs? Once again, Is Mitt a person who should be appointing people to scientific positions?

    Look up the kinderhook plates. Joseph Smith "translated" these plates, but turned out to be a hoax.

    Look up Joseph Smith's translation of hieroglyphics into the book of Abraham. Problem Joseph Smith did this before hieroglyphics were decoded and he (Smith), the con man, thought that hieroglyphics would never be decoded. Check it out and see what Smith what the hieroglyphics Smith "translated" really were.

    Mormons believe in posthumous baptism.

    And much more.

    Check it out. 

    September 16, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • takingaquess

      taking a guess at where i will land:
      nowhere cuz i will be nothing
      wonder if he will pray for me kindly

      September 16, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Primewonk

      Talking snakes. Talking donkeys. Woman made from a rib bone. Cattle mating in front of striped sticks will give birth to striped cows.

      And yet you nutters think the other nutters are nuts?

      September 16, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Geeeez

      Typical religious ocus pocus BS. Are we electing a Pope or President?

      September 16, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  8. riabm60

    The subject Mittens knows best : God and money

    September 16, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Toilet Logic

      Well, seems our country has a problem with money right now, so, seems he can at least have a 50% chance of success!

      September 16, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Kip Thomas

      If only god existed!

      September 16, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  9. strangways

    like we all knew, Mittens will do, say ANYthing to get elected. O-bashing not working... hmmm... how about the religion card? We do NOT need to hand the Christian right an all access pass to the White House. Vote O in November...

    September 16, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Satan

      We much prefer an Islamic one?

      September 16, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Patricksday

      The real "Christian Right" are not touching Romney with a 10 foot pole, any Religion that believes the Holy Bible is not enough that a "Book of Mormon" is better can surely not be of Jesus. For me, I know Romney's loyalty lies in the Filthy Rich and getting them even more money. You cant do the kinds of things these monsters have planned for the majority of Americans and call your self a man of God, Lucifer yes, God no. Greed, Selfishness, Materialism and pure Hate for your fellow person are not "values" of a Loving God.

      September 16, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Geeeez

      Islamic, Jewish, Christian. It's all the same BS parading as fact. Religion is a crock of bull crap.

      September 16, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  10. Charles

    "Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion."
    "...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
    Apparently the folks at Liberty University, even their guest speakers, are so busy reading their version of the Bible that they don't have time to read anything else.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Satan

      No, but they DO read their coins, and they DO recite the pledge of Allegiance!

      September 16, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      A blogger with the screen name "Satan" defending Christianity.

      Christianity at its best. LOL

      September 16, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  11. Toilet Logic

    Hmmm... what to do what to do....? The economy is in the toilet. Should I vote for a guy who has a law background or.... a businessman who has made so much money that he doesn't know how much he has nor where it all is? Hmmmmm.... the morale of the country is in the toilet. Should I vote for a guy whose religion was "Made in the USA", or a guy whose preachers spit racial vitriol?

    September 16, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  12. Dana

    Religion has no place in politics unless you want to wind up like the Arabs. Keep your silly sky fairies and magic out of this.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Toilet Logic

      Aren't they already in it?

      September 16, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  13. Frankie

    Do these guys know if God wants to be in their party or public circles? Maybe he just wants to be left out of politics and just kept in peoples prayers?

    September 16, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Toilet Logic

      Maybe he wants to make some wine out of water for the inaugural ball!

      September 16, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  14. Dana

    He is trying to scare away reasonable voters.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • areasonablevoter

      there are no real choices for reasonable voters, only the lesser of evil and delusions
      and loss of freedoms
      and a reasonable usa
      etc...
      just lessers
      not choices

      September 16, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  15. Paulette Campbell

    I am afraid Romney is the coming of the anti-christ. He is trying to fullfill a prophesy, but I have to believe good will win out. His wife reminds me of a witch. I cringe every time I think of her saying at the republican convention "I love you woman" as though she's on some high perch & we're in the streets. LIke many others...I see a mushroom cloud when I think of him as president. I also see people begging in the streets. I hope the crazy radical tea partiers & greedy rich people aren't able to buy his election. Wake up people!!!

    September 16, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Toilet Logic

      Do you expect this American society to not worship money? Have you seen how people worship the Hollywood "Stars" lately?

      September 16, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Patricksday

      You can see it by his drum beat for a War with Iran, well not the Puppet Romney's desire, but the Puppet Masters who have this weak man right where they want him, he will do anything to be President of the United States. President Obama has demonstrated more Christian Values than any recent President with his Actions, not just his words, or having to inject God into his speeches, until the end of his speeches.

      September 16, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  16. MikeA

    Just like the Taliban

    September 16, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  17. sweeney

    please leave your god out of our government

    September 16, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Toilet Logic

      He sweeney! Do you still spend those coins and bills that have "In God We Trust" on them? Or, are you just one of those sanctimoneous people who don't use American cash at all?

      September 16, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Kip Thomas

      Toilet Logic = Dork. Sweeney was making a request.

      September 16, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  18. writerscramp

    OF COURSE Romney is ratcheting up the God rhetoric ! because he knows he has already lost the female vote, the black vote, the gay vote, the hispanic vote, the union vote and the senior citizen vote. The Bible crowd is the only crowd left he has yet to convince he insane, but don't worry, he has two months left in which he will surely accomplish that

    September 16, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  19. hannah1

    He can blab "god" all he wants, but most rational people know religion has no place in politics. Period. No exceptions!
    Just shows what an idiot he is.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • pingpongstar

      This guy Romney is an empty-suit PHONY...

      So funny seeing him wear jeans on the campaign trail... it's I bet the first pair of jeans he's worn since his high-school years... his lame attempt for 'Joe the plumber' to relate to him... PLEASE..........

      September 16, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Satan

      Correct!

      September 16, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  20. Louis Trujillo

    Romney is reaching for the sky.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:34 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.