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. us_1776

    The game is over for Romney and the Repubs.

    Latest polls show Obama leading by over 120 electoral votes.

    This is an insurmountable lead.


    September 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  2. Chris33

    Obama released TWELVE years worth of his tax returns.

    Romney released ONE.

    What is Romney hiding?

    September 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  3. Gavin

    I can find many examples where Mitt Romney has personally come to the aid of others and helped many people in need. He has given a great deal of his wealth to charity and toward helping his fellow man.Why is it that I cannot find similar examples in Barack Obama's life? I see a man of strong faith and principles in one man and a man whose claims, experience, and qualifications are superficial and without substance.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      Just as with your imaginary friend in the sky, you see what you want to see. It takes 3 seconds in Google to find examples of Obama aiding others and giving to charity.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Athy

      He probably doesn't know how to use Google.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  4. Noah

    At eight, I saw its angry face
    each time it roared back on
    its flames, dancing devils with forks,
    in the room I always sneaked past.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Mom


      "...from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.”
      ― Maurice Sendak

      September 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  5. Kirk

    Health Care problem and social security problem. FYI!

    September 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  6. Kirk

    I say CNN is Rhetoric and I have conciderably more faith in Romney than Obama and his careless decisions.

    I have more faith in his decisions on solving our Gas price problem, our Debt problem, our terror problem and our EMPLOYMENT problem!

    September 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Faith" is not a wise choice. We do not reward those who suspend fact and logic to base decisions upon. These are known as fools. And random capitalization doesn't help your apparent nuttiness.

      September 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  7. Kirk

    So CNN is now saying "GOD" is now just Rhetoric but, not a belief or faith.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      delusional yapping is rhetoric

      September 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Dippy

      And random capitalization is bizarre.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  8. Noah

    Dancing devils
    Create a hell on earth
    Angels with smiles
    are now really in dearth

    September 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Mom

      "But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”
      And Max said, “No!”
      The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.” - Where the Wild Things Are

      September 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  9. No-one-to-vote-for

    If what we have here on this blog is a cross-section of American public and their views, it is no brainer why we as a Country and Society are in the shape we are in!

    September 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Instead of bashing everyone equally, why not shed some insight of your own?

      September 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • No-one-to-vote-for

      Not bashing, just observing.
      BTW, it should be no mystery why there is only two washed out, dead beat parties in this country. That in itself says a lot about the co.ndi.tion of people in it!

      September 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Sigh...can't argue with that.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  10. GOD spoke to me.

    Which religion would Jesus choose?

    September 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • No-one-to-vote-for

      Very dumb question. If God sent Jesus to this world to reveal Him, how would He join any 'religion'? He is God, and God does not join man made religions. He brings us truth about Himself, so we wouldn't dabble in man's religions. Do you get it, or is it still fuzzy to you?

      September 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Noah

      Probably the one Paul would choose.

      10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
      11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
      12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
      13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
      14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
      15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. (New Testament, 1 Corinthians, Chapter 1)

      He would choose the Church of Jesus Christ and if he were here today, he would choose the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Days (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints )

      September 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Desmond Tutu had an answer for that in his book God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations.

      "Surely it is good to know that God (in the Christian tradition) created us all (not just Christians) in his image, thus investing us all with infinite worth, and that it was with all humankind that God entered into a covenant relationship"

      September 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • No-one-to-vote-for

      You've missed it too!

      September 16, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • End Religion

      He'd probably crucify himself to get out of this madhouse.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • on StreetWise

      ...Give what to Caesar to Caesar and Give to God to God

      September 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • GOD spoke to me.


      Just because I asked the question doesn't imply lack of understanding.

      GOD said to me "religion is the problem, not the answer."

      September 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • No-one-to-vote-for

      When you asked which religion would Jesus choose, you already show you don't understand.

      As for you last post...Jesus said , you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Only TRUTH sets people free. Religion doesn't . Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Can you accept that, or is this classified as religion to you?

      September 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  11. exlonghorn

    According to the latest global poll released by RedC Opinion Poll, part of WIN-Gallup International, a world-wide network of leading opinion pollsters, the number of self-declared atheists in the world has risen by 9% since the measure was last taken in 2005.

    The mas sive poll, conducted in 57 countries (not, apparently, including Britain) among 51,000 people asked a single question "Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?"

    It shows that on average 59% of the world said that they think of themselves as religious, whereas 23% think of themselves as not religious and 13% think of themselves as convinced atheists. Naturally there are enormous variations from country to country.

    The countries with most self-described atheists are Chi na (47%); Ja pan (31%), Czech Rep ublic (30%), France (29%), South Korea (15%), Germany (15%), Netherlands (14%), Austria (10%), Iceland (10%), Australia (10%) and Ireland (10%).

    The most religious countries are: Ghana (where 96% of people define themselves as religious), Nigeria (93%), Armenia (92%), Fiji (92%), Macedonia (90%), Romania (89%), Ir aq (88%), Kenya (88%), Peru (86%) and Brazil (85%).

    One of the most dramatic reductions in the proportion of the population considering themselves religious occurred in Ireland: from 69% in 2005 to 47% in 2012, placing Ireland on the index of religious belief at position 43 out of 57 countries.

    The poll also showed that the po orer people were, the more likely they were to be religious.

    September 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  12. Keith

    Romney is hoping the Christians can save him

    September 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  13. Noah

    Shadows dance around my orbit
    Spectres leap and demons twirl
    Yet I stand here in the centre
    Watching madness unfurl

    September 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  14. Chris33

    What's the difference between Mitt Romney and LBJ?

    Romney found a way out of Vietnam!

    September 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  15. ronjayaz

    Playing the god-card wont werk in 2012 as it might have in say 1952; any more than the race-card will. Rmoney is desperate and desperate men do desperate things.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  16. Noah

    Dance, devils, dance! Oh, isn't this fun?

    September 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  17. Paul Barry

    He is preaching to the converted. He already has the religious vote, firtunately it is not nearly enough to win.
    Just another sign of his ignorance.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  18. ronjayaz

    Mr. Rmoney is desperate and desperate men do desperate things. The American electorate is much more sophisticated in 2012 than it was in 1952. Playing the god-card is no different from playing the race-card. It wont werk.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  19. RudyG

    Romney needs to tone down the rhetoric. Some Americans now get offended when they hear the word "God"!! The Founding Fathers would be bashed for daring to use the word. Ban all coins immediately!!!

    September 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      It will have to be more than just coins. "In god We Trust" has been on our paper money since 1957.

      September 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Yes... send all those filthy pieces of paper with the words "In God We Trust" to me... I'll recycle them for you... (I do, on occasion, correct the spelling of that 2nd word... inserting the letter "L" before the "D"...)

      September 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Tone it down??? Don't we want all candidates to reveal themselves to us?

      September 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  20. Peter Wolfe

    Ever4Lasting: Finally somebody gets that about "Gay Marriage" not foisted in your physical churches just in a civil neutral location for two people who love one another not forced to be accepted in society. I could careless what people think about this or what you already and will be doing in your home just don't dictate other peoples lives. When you take another minorities righs, then inevediably the majority will take away from another minority till the majority becomes the minority and we all don't have rights. Take an example from Hitler's theocratic vigor with jews, then the disabled, gays, gypsies, foreigners, nonwhites, and of course anybody outside of northern european e.g. blonde hair blue eyed background. This includes me and you and everybody don't let this fascist destroy others happiness for his thirst for more power!

    September 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
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About this blog

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.