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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. rollingstart

    republicans are crazy. just talk about politics and keep religion to yourself.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  2. not supporting cult

    Sorry but voting for Romney is like voting for Warren Jeffs. Polygamy,molestation of women and children,incest,cult rituals,Magic Underwear, sorry but I am also a republican who is appauled by the sick stuff mormons are about and have to agree with my church,we will not support Cult Bishop Romney .

    September 16, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  3. Jeff 30

    Romney thinks his underwear has magical powers lol..............Most churches have a cross on top of it,mormons do not,christians have a necklace with a cross,Mormons have Magical underwear .........Out of all the objects to worship the cultists pick Magical underwear.........what crazies lol

    September 16, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  4. 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?????????????????? Send the cult Bishop Romney back to Mexico where his polygamy commune is from. We conservative christians do not want him or his skidmarked cult Magical underwear in the whitehouse representing christians......

    September 16, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Liz

      Its better than having a president with a Muslim past

      September 16, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  5. fu

    It must've been a slow news week. I see CNN has chosen to keep this story on its homepage forever. Maybe things will pick up next week.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  6. Bishop Hairy Palms

    Romney believes in multiple Gods.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  7. 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 11:00 am |
  8. 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 10:59 am |
  9. 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 10:59 am |
  10. Chris33

    The Republican equation..

    Romney + Karl Rove + Rush Limbaugh + Grover Norquist + super rich + $uperPACs = 1%

    September 16, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  11. TheTraveler

    Watch Romney's rhetoric now. He'll invoke God to whip up support from the religious right. THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HELPED PUT BUSH IN HIS SECOND TERM. Romney will capitalize on the Islamophobia sweeping this country and use it win support ...

    September 16, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • GOD spoke to me.

      Even scarier is that if Romney does whip up his fearful base that Ryan will be one heartbeat away from the presidency.

      Paul Ryan is one seriously evil guy.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  12. bill davis

    Obama ratchets up Muslim re trick.let's start a April Spring...

    Let's hide our failures....and give more money to Islam.... noting like supporting our enemies...

    Romney is bad man he supports working for living,

    Obama supports more hand outs,,,Our Middle Class are rich and they can afford to give more...to our poor...

    September 16, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Isaac

      Derrrrrrp!

      September 16, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Liz

      Finally someone here with some brains!!!!

      September 16, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • End Religion

      Back to your bunker, Bill, Rush and Beck are back from break. Tell me, when you go to the bathroom does your gun get lonely and a bit cold when you set it down to hold your wiener?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • dsmidiman

      Bill? What you been smok'in?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  13. Drew

    pander. pander. pander.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  14. John

    People don't want to read Mr. Romney's prayer book they want to read his TAX RETURNS!

    September 16, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • bill davis

      Rigth, We can see wht Obama has done....nothing.....he did play GOLF...

      September 16, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • End Religion

      @bill: why lie? Obama has had some limited results, but to say he's done nothing simply lets everyone know they can ignore you since you don't base any of your thoughts in reality. One thing's for sure, Obama did get Romney's healthcare plan passed! Since Romney will never be President it seems pretty nice of Obama to have done so.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Liz

      I want to review all the applicants for government assistance that obamas administration approved....

      September 16, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  15. Isaac

    Mitt, if you become president will you send a NASA probe to planet Kolob?

    September 16, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • End Religion

      It is very likely he'll send an anal probe to Kolon.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  16. just wondering

    PLEASE GOD PLEASE... I FKD UP... I LIED TO MUCH I CANT KEEP MY STORY STRAIGHT.. GOD HELP ME

    September 16, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  17. Doug

    It's pretty entertaining watching the Republican religious base trash their candidate because of his religion.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • End Religion

      It is the nature of religions "based on love and tolerance" to show their true colours: hate and intolerance.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  18. harrisonhits2

    He knows he only has a prayer of winning so he figures he mights as well ask for divine intervention as often as possible

    September 16, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  19. formerMarine

    According to christians, it doesn't matter how many times Rombut invokes God...he's still going to Hell. Even if he's at Liberty University saying whatever he thinks the crowd wants to hear.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  20. ShawnDH

    The USA is a SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, NOT A THEOCRACY!

    Romney just makes me less likely to vote for him if he comes off as a religious fanatic. Obama has a much better balance between politics and faith, and the Republicans' religious extremism is scary, dangerous...and EMBARRASSING to our country!

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

      Atleast he has the love religion in his heart

      September 16, 2012 at 11:20 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.