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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. Valerie Schwalm

    What ever happened to separation of Church and State!

    September 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bren

      This is truly terrifying. Keep YOUR god out of our government. Believe what you want but do not force those beliefs on me or on any other American. Reading articles like these make me sick to my stomach...

      September 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Bren

      Exactly, separation of church and state.
      This is truly terrifying. Keep YOUR god out of our government. Believe what you want but do not force those beliefs on me or on any other American. Reading articles like these make me sick to my stomach...

      September 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  2. Al Ford

    Which God?
    There have been @ 3000 gods in human history...

    September 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  3. randy

    Holy Mitt. The GOP is seriously creepy.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • NEC

      The GOP and it's evangelicals would love nothing better than for the US to be a Theocracy!!

      September 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  4. Dennis Kalita

    Sanotrum whips up the crowd and implies that only Republicans with families qualify as Christians. Romney plays to the same crowd although some don’t feel he qualifies as a Christian. At the end of the day, he wants votes and everyone knows by now that Romney fluidly says whatever he thinks will get him votes. The extra God emphasis has little to do with Romney unless we’re talking about the god of votes.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  5. AaronT3

    During Vietnam War when America needed Willard (Etch-A-Sketch) Romney this COWARD got four deferments and ran off to France.

    When America needed him to pay his fair share of taxes, he hid his money in offshore accounts.

    When America needed jobs he led the way for outsourcing destroying entire families.

    Now he wants to become President of America and some of you believe all of the above are acceptable character traits you want in the leader of our country.

    In STARK contrast to President Obama whose ENTIRE public service career has consistently worked to improve the quality of life of other less fortunate then himself.

    For me selfless service to mankind is a far better trait than that demonstrated and practiced by Willard (Etch-A-Sketch) Romney!!!

    September 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      Aaron, you are part of the solution. Keep the push-back coming. It's time. The entire GOP has turned it's back on the spirit of the message of the founding fathers. Keep religion out of politics! Mitt Romney's entire campaign has been nothing but pandering to anyone who will vote for him. He has sent nothing but mixed messages. Obama has been pretty clear on what he wants and I believe it is what we all want. America is about people, not business. America is about how we deal with life in a secular way, not in a religious way. Have your religion however you want it. Just keep it out of our politics. Whoever likes religion in their politics should move to the middle east. There it is all about religion and politics being one and the same.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  6. exlonghorn

    “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.

    Newsflash: Our pledge of allegiance only gained the phrase "under god" in 1954.

    Interesting given the fact that "In god We Trust" has only been on our paper money since 1957, and only on our coins since 1864. Our money was just fine without this phrase for nearly 100 years.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Dapper Dan

      Direct result of the McCarthy communist witch hunts.
      Michelle Bachman is starting an "Islamic" witch hunt.
      So far smart Americans arent buying it.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  7. J. D. Hunter

    The more a man mentions god the less I trust him.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Dapper Dan

      Romney was told that if things arent looking good,
      run back to the three "G's".
      Guns, God And Gays.
      It no longer works.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  8. Chris33

    Romney's Medicare Fraud....

    In 1989, Romney led Bain Capital's purchase of Damon Corp., a medical testing company, and took a seat on the Board of Directors to better manage it. During Romney's four years, Bain tripled its investment, and Romney personally made $473,000 - while Damon plumped its profits with Medicare fraud (running thousands of medical tests doctors didn't want, and billing Medicare for them). The company pled guilty to crimes committed during his tenure and paid a record fine of $119 million. Company President Joseph Isola pleaded no contest to fraud, and a vice president was also convicted. .

    September 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      Thanks, Chris. You are part of the solution. A clothier in our area uses the saying that "An educated consumer is our best customer." I say, an educated electorate is our best hope for good leadership. Keep the pushback coming. There is a lot of ignorance in our land and they will not change until they perceive (in their little pea brains) that the majority wants what you and I do. To them it is more important to back a "winner" than to do the right thing.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  9. chicago

    Romney is a phony just like his religion.Romney is a cult bishop for the Mormon cult church.Mormons are not christians .

    September 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Your statement somehow implies christian are in some way better.

      They are not. Their make believe story just has more followers and an older book.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • BurnNotice

      Who has the right to question anyone elses brand of "Christianity"?

      Catholics believe that other "Christians" who don't brown-nose the Pope are "heretics".

      If Mormons consider themselves "Christians", there's nothing to stop then from doing it.

      Even if Joseph Smith was the L. Ron Hubbard of the 19th century, his BS doesn't stink any worse.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  10. 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 12:33 pm |
    • BurnNotice

      Fortunately, we now have a CURE!

      The "devils" and "demons" are now Gone!

      The "holy cure" for demonic possession, is called "Thorazine"!

      Take two, and call us in the morning.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  11. Chris33

    Romney's Son of Boss fraud

    In his key role as chairman of the Marriott board's audit committee, Romney approved the firm's reporting of fictional tax losses exceeding $70 million generated by its Son of Boss transaction.

    Romney's AMPAD fraud

    American Pad and Paper. Romney and Bain Capital bought it from Mead Company, when it had total debts of $11 million. By the time they sold it, the company had $400 million in debt - and Bain had earned $100 million off the deals, between fees it charged the company for managing it and for buying other companies, and profits from selling the company's stock after they took it public (for yet another fee). Bain was later sued by stockholders for fraud in overstating the value of the company.....

    September 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      Keep it up, Chris. You are fighting the good fight with the right weapons. The pen is mightier than the sword. You are part of the solution.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  12. sanebuck

    ...one nation under arrest...

    September 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  13. FloydZepp

    Romney has finally decided that the only vote that matters for the fake conservative GOP now is the right wing extremist TeaRINOs. He certainly won't get thise actual conservative's vote now.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  14. David

    Taking God out would put us off as bad as the other socialist athiest unhappy countries.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Chris33

      Denmark is the happiest country on earth. Do a little research.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • FloydZepp

      Some of Europes most socially leaning countries are significantly beter off financially and emotionally over the US. Do a little research before yammering like Glenn Beck.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Swe den, Den mark, Nor way, Ja pan. All doing well with minimal religion.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      Putting God into politics makes us like Iran, and Pakistan and Sudan and Afghanistan and all the other Islamic nations. is that what you want. If you are on a crusade you are several hundred years too late. Look what GW Bush did by using God in his platform. He got elected twice and caused more damage to this country than any other president in my lifetime.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  15. exlonghorn

    Well, I guess that makes it official...Romney has lost my vote. As others have stated, it's fine with me that Romney has his faith. But the second this guy starts intertwining politics and religion, he's toast in my eyes. I guess I'll be voting third-party for the FIFTH time in a row.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • woman

      Voting for the third party is a waste of a vote. You may as well just stay home.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Well, that's exactly the mor onic, sheepish att itude that has created our current two-party disaster. Sure beats listening to Fox and CBNC blathering at each other day after day.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  16. Mark

    Symptoms: Fanaticism, delusion,t shortsightedness and bouts of violence.

    Diagnoses: Religion is a disease and billions of people on earth are infected.

    Prognoses: 100% mortality rate

    September 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  17. blanosc

    Funny, he doesn't mention Jesus Christ because Mormons just like Jehova's Witnesses don't believe in Jesus Christ therefore he is a not Christian. He just won't get my vote, period.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      So if he mentioned Jesus Christ this would somehow make things better???

      September 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      I am glad he won't get your vote. He has not earned it. But just to set the record straight the Mormon church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There are plenty of good reasons not to vote for Romney. Not voting for him because you don't think he is Christian is like not voting for Obama because you think he is a Muslim.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      @theoldfool1950...well said. Maybe the candidates should be focusing on education more than religion.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Maya

    It isn't a coincidence that all of the theocracies in the world with the exception of the Vatican are third world countries.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Noah

      It isn't a coincidence that the 1st world countries in the world tend to be Christian with the exception of Ja pan.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  19. fred

    Mitt Romney don't pay no taxes. BIG PHONY!!

    September 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Did Romney ever state that he was a big tax payer? How can he be phony if he's not claiming to pay more taxes than he really does?

      The level of education in this country worries me.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  20. ever4lasting

    It is OK to have your faith, no matter how strange, but it needs to stay out of politics, we cannot run a country on religious convictions, this will interfere with equal rights, like we are seeing right now for the gay community We were founded on the freedom of religion and freedom of worship how you like. But wanting to be president you should not use that stance, because we are hodgepodge of different faiths. I'm sick of them relating to god in politics, the Lord was not involved in such a matter, and that message only reaches the so called religious groups, what about the rest of us??

    September 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • mshawaii808

      The religious fanatic's don't care about you and I and the rights of other's..it's about what they believe in....THAT is so familiar with all those countries that believe in their GOD...don't you think???

      September 16, 2012 at 12:12 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.