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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. repub christian

    Time to send the cult Bishop Romney a message...........Christian repubs do not want him or support him and his Skidmarked Magical panty cult. Many of us did not want Romney ,he was forced on us. A man who thinks his skidmark in his underwear gives him magical powers needs to get some therapy. Many people from my area who vote repub will not be voting this election,many will not sell out their faith to support the cultist.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • MalcomR

      You are the worst of the deluded sheep. Please never vote. Or reproduce. Or leave your house.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  2. Bob from texas

    Mormons are Sicko cultists....Its well known to most christians that Mormons are not christian and are twisted pathetic people that hurt women and children,molest children,enslave the women and children and brainwash them into believing that the incest,molestation is gods word. The mormon cult is a group that belongs in jail for all the crimes agains the women and children,if the public knew how bad mormons were they would be ran out of town like in the old days with pitchforks........Send the weirdo Romney back to his polygamy commune in Mexico where his family is from......................

    September 16, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • luffing

      Eloquent lunacy there, Bob

      September 16, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  3. Bob from texas

    Mormons are Sicko cultists....Its well known to most christians that Mormons are not christian and are twisted pathetic people that hurt women and children,molest children,enslave the women and children and brainwash them into believing that the incest,molestation is gods word. The mormon cult is a group that belongs in jail for all the crimes agains the women and children,if the public knew how bad mormons were they would be ran out of town like in the old days with pitchforks........Send the weirdo Romney back to his polygamy commune in Mexico where his family is from

    September 16, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Dippy

      Eloquent lunacy there, Bob.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  4. donna rochester

    He will "emphasize the role of God in American society"??? Wake up America, of course he will. The founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith believed in a theodemocratic form of government, in other words, government based on the teachings of God as interpreted by Mormons. Think about it. Is this what you really want? Once the public begins to really understand Mormon religion I think they will recognize that this is a far different religion than mainstream Protestants or Catholics believe. Republicans scream about their fear of Sharia law but are somehow ignorant about the Mormons. If we don't maintain separation of church and state, then we are in danger of being governed by radicals.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  5. Bob from texas

    Mormons are Sicko cultists....Its well known to most christians that Mormons are not christian and are twisted pathetic people that hurt women and children,molest children,enslave the women and children and brainwash them into believing that the incest,molestation is gods word. The mormon cult is a group that belongs in jail for all the crimes agains the women and children,if the public knew how bad mormons were they would be ran out of town like in the old days with pitchforks........

    September 16, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  6. Nikki

    Romneys grandpa was ran out of the USA for being a polygamist cultist having 11 wives some as young as 10 years old.Once he arrived in Mexico a Jealous husband at his Mormon commune gunned him down. Yeah this is they type of values we need in our whitehouse right? A man who comes from a cult religion that believes his Mormon Magical Underwear Protects him from evil..............What a weirdo lol .............................................

    September 16, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  7. Chris33

    What happened to Osama Bin Laden? Oh, yea, Obama got him. What happened to Gaddafi? Oh, yea, Obama got him too. What happened to the Great Recession? Oh, yea, GDP has been growing for three years. What happened to GM? Oh, yea, Obama saved them. What happened to the stock market? Oh, yea, it has doubled since the stimulus.

    Obama has done a very good job.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  8. MightyMoo

    I think my government needs less religion not more. Especially after watching what happened in the Middle East, religion is not high on my list right now when I think of rational normal people.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Dippy

      The government needs no religion at all.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  9. Noah

    A good discription of hell, a bunch of devils and demons dancing, mocking, and making fun of good people and sacred things.

    11 And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;
    12 For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, Chapter 12)

    September 16, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • MalcomR

      A good description of hell? That sounds more like an elementary school playground to me. From what I've read, there is eternal torture in unspeakable ways. And according to jesus, very few are going to avoid it, especially the rich. No wonder they needed a new religion...

      September 16, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  10. MalcomR

    So, how do xians feel about the abject lies that this guy and his boy wonder are telling? If he would, via some mormon miracle, get elected, what will you all say when he fails to deliver 12M jobs in his first term? What will you say when our military becomes more out of proportion than it has ever been, and social programs are "modified" to the point where we have higher poverty rates than ever before? Do you really think he has the answer to prosperity for anyone other than those who are paying for his presidency? Think about WWJD, then think about WWRD.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  11. MalcomR

    Look, Obama is far from perfect, but what would we have expected from ANY president given what he had (and still has) to deal with? Magic? Miracles? That seems to be what Romney/Ryan are offering the ignorati of the current GOP base. Obama at least acknowledges the immense difficulty of the situation, whereas the GOP are pandering like never before. You want a quick solution? Move to Sweden. They seem to have their s**t together. Otherwise, accept that the policies that put "buisness" above all else have been PROVEN to be far less than optimal. We need a balance between the opportunities that capitalism provides and the reality that there will always be more people than we can adequately employ. Opportunity + Social Responsibility. What is so freakin' hard about that?

    September 16, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  12. gop usa

    I am a Republican and I will not sell out my christian faith to support a Mormon cultist.No matter how Mormons try to spin it they are sicko cultists and are NOT CHRISTIAN.....there are no crosses on their church,no bible,wears Magical underwear or pantys.......weirdo rituals,polygamy,sisterwives......molestation of women and children and the abuse of women and children to make sure they keep it all secret. Mormons are just as bad a Johovas whitnesses or heavens gate cult...Satan worshippers.......but NOT CHRISTIAN and many conservative christian repubs will not support such a vile man like Romney we will stay home in November..................................

    September 16, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • MalcomR

      Thank your imaginary god for that. We certainly would benefit if more religious people just didn't vote.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • fyre

      You know how weird it is to we atheists/agnostics to watch religious people argue over whose magical supernatural beliefs are crazier? You're ALL crazy cultists to us!

      September 16, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • MalcomR

      HA! Ain't that the truth!

      September 16, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Real Mormon

      No we don't have extra wifes, our garments remind us of who we are, and our commitment to Jesus and God ( Not Magic Underwear or Panty's ) Yes we DO have Bibles in our Church every Sunday, we do study them, we do read out of them King James Version. Molestation ? Are you implying breakoff sects, that are excommunicated, and not members of our church are the same as us ? People like you make me sick ! Get the facts before you run your mouth about something, you CLEARLY know nothing factual about !

      By the way I am LDS, and I may vote for Obama, I will vote who is better for my situation in life, not somebody because they belong to my church. Unintelligent posts like the one you made are funny, us true Mormons, know the Doctrine, how the Bible supports that Christ visited the America's how uneducated farm boy could not dream up or create a work of fiction that does not contradict itself 1 time front to back, etc. so much more, so deep when you really study into it, and plain to see it is not from Joseph Smith, but a higher Power than his own imagination.

      I don't care if you worship a toad, or animals, or nothing, that is your right, your 100% right. So why bash mormons with lies that are so untrue ? I am Mormon, and may vote for Obama, but get the facts right about our Church before you run your pie hole innaccurately !

      September 16, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  13. Mormon Magical Underwear

    Step right up folks Step right up!!!!!! Romney is giving out some goodies at the Republican Convention!!!!!! First you will reciev a free pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR that protects you from evil when you click your heels together,and only the most devout shall never take them off even during a bath.Then you will recieve a picture of The Mormon Messiah Joesoph Smith who the Mormons worship over Jesus,Joesoph Smith was a con man,molester,Polygamist and a murderer,yet he is revered higher than christ.......Then you will recieve the BOOK OF MORMON that the con man molester Joesoph Smith wrote to help him control his followers and Brainwash them....You will also recieve the teachings on how all people of color are products of evil.....like the Mormon church teaches.Last but not least you will recieve directions to the planet in outer space named KOLOB where the Mormons believe their god lives and if you die wearing your Mormon Magical Underwear you will become a god too and fly in outer space to be with Joesoph Smith on KOLOB wih as many wives as you want.......THIS IS NOT CHRISTIAN IN ANY WAY!!!!! Romney can click his heels to activate his magical underwear all he wants but christians will not buy his Phoney garbage religion......This religion was made up by a polygamist murderer who conned so many in the 1800s conservative repub christians will not vote or support such an evil vile man like Romney.Draft dodger.....cultist....tax evader......magic underwear...it just keeps getting better and better.............Romney does not belong anywhere but a padded room.........................................Go back to Utah Romney with your Magical Skidmarked Pantys......The gop does not want you,America does not want you........

    September 16, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  14. DJ Reality

    Wow now he's pandering to the Christian right. This only goes to prove he will do and say anything to get elected. He has become a shell or was he always one. This is the guy republicans want in the White House? What's next? Last week he looked like a desperate man and he is getting more desperate every day.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  15. sim namore

    Romney, like all of his right wing predecessors, must show up at Liberty University to show off his/her evangelical prowess. It wasn't that long ago (last year?) that a Mormon would not have been welcomed there. Let us remember, however, that the Mormon church would never have been founded were it for hatred of the United States and its laws (like those against slavery and polygamy). J Smith declared war against the U S and raised a (pitiful) army to attack the U S–they even had a battle or two against U S regulars in Missouri. He named B Young as President of the United States and every single Mormon took "An Oath of Vengeance Against the United States" before being recognized as a Mormon for well over 150 years. Smith was himself charged with treason twice and the U S Army had to be called in to subdue insurrections by the Mormon faithful in Utah after they murdered over 200 innocent men, women, and children. Those who supported and plotted the Oklahoma CIty bombings were all radicalized Mormons. And here you were all worried about Islam.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  16. Mormon Magical Underwear

    Step right up folks Step right up!!!!!! Romney is giving out some goodies at the Republican Convention!!!!!! First you will reciev a free pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR that protects you from evil when you click your heels together,and only the most devout shall never take them off even during a bath.Then you will recieve a picture of The Mormon Messiah Joesoph Smith who the Mormons worship over Jesus,Joesoph Smith was a con man,molester,Polygamist and a murderer,yet he is revered higher than christ.......Then you will recieve the BOOK OF MORMON that the con man molester Joesoph Smith wrote to help him control his followers and Brainwash them....You will also recieve the teachings on how all people of color are products of evil.....like the Mormon church teaches.Last but not least you will recieve directions to the planet in outer space named KOLOB where the Mormons believe their god lives and if you die wearing your Mormon Magical Underwear you will become a god too and fly in outer space to be with Joesoph Smith on KOLOB wih as many wives as you want.......THIS IS NOT CHRISTIAN IN ANY WAY!!!!! Romney can click his heels to activate his magical underwear all he wants but christians will not buy his Phoney garbage religion......This religion was made up by a polygamist murderer who conned so many in the 1800s conservative repub christians will not vote or support such an evil vile man like Romney.Draft dodger.....cultist....tax evader......magic underwear...it just keeps getting better and better.............Romney does not belong anywhere but a padded room.........................................

    September 16, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  17. froSTed

    We have freedom of and FROM religion in this country. Romney seems to forget that. He also forgets that you can't legislate religion in the USA. If you are voting on some moral grounds, you have missed the point. The POTUS is for the whole country, not your select click, or religion, he represents ALL of us. Also, let's not forget that Romney doesn't stand for anything, he did a 180 on every "key" issue he has brought up so far and lied over 500 times in less than 30 days. Not presidential material.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  18. Nikki

    I wonder if Romney clicks his heels once or twice to activate his Mormon Magical Underwear he believes Protects him from evilll. Can Romney put his undies on his head and use them like radar for evil or can he see through walls? Where does the power come from? is it his skidmark that gives his underwear power?????? Lol the cultists have the weirdest things....Magical underwear....whats next Magical buttplugs????????????????????

    September 16, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  19. pmangr

    Not only will Mitt not take God out of his heart, he has also vowed NOT to change his "Magic Underpants" until after the election!

    September 16, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  20. Pete Clarke

    This guy should have stayed in the middle and left his weirdo religion at home. When will folks get that the GOP is a right wing, bigoted, party without any moral principals. usually self serving. I would love to see them loose in November just to watch all the money they spent go down the tubes. I'll stick with Obama at least I won't worry about America ditching its morality.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:04 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.