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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.”

CNN Belief: Can Mitt Romney’s evangelical ambassador seal the deal before Election Day?

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. trent

    Which God are YOU thinking of??? Bet's it's not this one...

    ^ Young (1852, p. 50). The full text from the Journal of Discourses 1:51 reads as follows: "It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in all heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Again, they will try to tell how the divinity of Jesus is joined to his humanity, and exhaust all their mental faculties, and wind up with this profound language, as describing the soul of man, "it is an immaterial substance!" What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation. I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever,that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost."

    November 4, 2012 at 6:03 am |
  2. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    A 33 year old score has been settled. Jerry Falwell has his revenge from beyond the grave.

    Let’s look at a time line:

    ..................1979
    Jerry Falwell founds Moral Majority:
    Billy Graham refused to join Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, saying: "I'm for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak with authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left. I haven't been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future."

    ..................1980
    Mark DeMoss enrolled at Liberty University, Falwell’s school, in 1980, the year after his father died of a heart attack. Falwell, a fundamentalist preacher, would become like a second father.

    DeMoss’s dad had been friends with Falwell – DeMoss says it’s unclear if the insurance marketing company his father founded, National Liberty Corp., helped give Liberty University its name – and Mark found work in Falwell’s office after graduation.

    ..................1980s
    By the time he was 23, DeMoss was serving as Falwell’s chief of staff and spokesman, helping his boss run a growing evangelical empire that included the Lynchburg, Virginia, university and a new organization Falwell had helped found: the Moral Majority.

    The organization aimed to bring evangelicals back into the political fold, after millions of them had spent decades sitting out elections, convinced that politics were a dirty, ungodly business.

    Falwell taught him how political organizing works, from the grassroots to the very top. He took him to meetings with President Ronald Reagan, whom the Moral Majority had helped elect, and President George H.W. Bush.

    ..................1991
    DeMoss founds the DeMoss Group, a Christian PR firm in Atlanta.

    The firm, took Falwell as its first client and quickly added business from big Christian groups like Chuck Colson’s Prison Ministries, Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse and Christian Crusade for Christ.

    More than 20 years later, those groups are still with DeMoss.

    ..................2006
    Mark DeMoss approaches Mitt Romney about running for President.

    ..................2007
    Jerry Falwell dies.

    ..................2008
    Mitt Romney runs in the Republican Primaries, losing to John McCain

    ..................2011
    DeMoss becomes a Senior Advisor to the Romney Campaign (and his evangelical ambassador)

    ..................2012
    May, 2012 – Romney delivers the commencement speech to graduates at Liberty U.
    September, 2012 – Romney delivers “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,” stump speech at Liberty U.

    October, 2012 – Billy and Franklin Graham meet with Mitt Romney and erase references to cults (like Mormonism) on Billy Graham’s website.

    Jerry Falwell -> Mark DeMoss -> Franklin Graham -> Billy Graham and Mark DeMoss -> Mitt Romney

    Following the connections, Falwell gets his revenge and Billy backs a Mormon.

    Politics, as usual.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  3. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    I wonder how much Mark DeMoss had to do with the meeting between Billy Graham and Mittens?

    Jerry Falwell, Mark De Moss, Franklin Graham and Mitt Romney: 1, Billy Graham 0

    October 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  4. Observant Historian

    Here's a commandment Romney/Ryan might try on – Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    October 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  5. pattipaws

    Religion needs to stay out of politics period!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 2, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  6. Matt in Oregon

    I think it is a sign that the Romney campaign is growing a little desperate that it is ratcheting up the "god talk".

    September 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Bob

      Which God you talk'in bout?

      ^ Young (1852, p. 50). The full text from the Journal of Discourses 1:51 reads as follows: "It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in all heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Again, they will try to tell how the divinity of Jesus is joined to his humanity, and exhaust all their mental faculties, and wind up with this profound language, as describing the soul of man, "it is an immaterial substance!" What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation. I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever,that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost."

      November 4, 2012 at 6:06 am |
  7. Kel

    I really dislike how you have to pass a religion test to become president. It's not legally required, but any openly atheist candidate would never win. The misconceptions about agnostics/atheists are really quite staggering.

    September 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  8. oldcrowe

    You Americans have lost a lot of credibility since electing DUBYA...twice if you can believe that.....now Romney is the best the Republicans have to offer ...what a joke world-wide....if you put that clown into office you deserve to be China's bumboy.....I believe in some kind of God but that has no place in running a country....just look at these mindlest Arabs who are murdering in the name of God...it's time to for the USA to man up and when it comes to Romney man down

    September 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  9. Abinadi

    I have a god complex. I'm currently being treated for it, but most of the time I just follow my church's tenants. The mormon church teaches us that we will become GODS of our own planets...so you can imagine what kind of person I am if I am looking forward to that! The mormon church also tells us to condemn anybody to Outer Darkness (our version of hell) for not believing or simply for doubting our teachings. We "dust" our feet at their door and that means we're sending a message to god that they are not worth his love. I and my fellow Mormons are superior, could you question that after you read my posts? Romney is just like the rest of us! He'd ruin this country if he became President. Also, we have a prophesy that says that if a Mormon got into office, he would had the country over to the Mormon Church to be ruled as a Theocracy. Look it up if you don't believe me! Look up "White Horse Prophesy" and keep in mind that Wikipedia is often altered by mormons like myself, so you have to do more research to find out the truth.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  10. Justin

    Check out this hilarious song about Mormons

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR4En09lKmI&w=640&h=360]

    September 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  11. D. Mama

    Now give me 4 husbands to do my bidding and thats what I would call the true American life!!

    September 19, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  12. Peter Wolfe

    Its official the U.S.A as I knew it is dead. The American Dream and in general americans are morons and unworthy of what we even have in this country. We chicken fight to prove meaningless squables and lose the point of protecting the hen house. Sad day in American life to say that I'm ashamed of being an american and want to leave if given the choice with adaquate money that I'd leave of my own choice.

    September 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      The American "Dream" has always been a "dream". That is, it is an illusion told by the wealthy to receive the continued cooperation and support of the poor. Don't be angry at America because you fell for the scam. Be angry at yourself. I am an ex-patriot and have been for 6 years now. I highly recommend leaving as there are many countries in the world which are closer to what I consider are my ideals. However, don't expect a different country not to scam you again. All of them run their own racket. There are plenty of good reasons to leave America. Personally, I didn't enjoy paying taxes into a military industrial complex. I want healthcare for my children, low crime, safe food and a good education. You don't have to leave angry.... just leave. It's liberating and inspiring.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  13. Peter Wolfe

    atkuehxe, Your logic electing the first african american went great didn't it? Honestly why not elect the first terrorist to the U.S just bring one of the Taliban over then by your logic? What is this obsession in this country with firsts? Who gives a -- about that except egotists? No first for a blind President or your hypocracy showing already?

    September 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • niknak

      OK, then lets keep Obama and not have a "first" with the first mormon.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  14. Peter Wolfe

    Abinadi, Do you think that the block granting of Medicaid willl disproportionally affect those wih physical or cognetive disabilities in health-care coverage? I honestly don't think most of you realize that in Texas 8 billion was cut last year in Medicaid and is scheduled for a further 16 billion in cuts that will for all intensive purposes euthenasia people with disabilities. Welcome to the NAZI party of the U.S called auserity and the failure to live up to the commitment of our forefathers.

    September 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  15. Peter Wolfe

    Abinadi, The sole thing you and I agree on but both Barack Hussein Obama and Willard Romney are both millionaires with no common understanding of the typical american. Why not just not vote or write in a name for your pick of President like what I'm doing in Alabama with my own name! I hate the current system because you are limited by the tyrany of the majority in whatever state blue or red in this country not on principle.

    September 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Abinadi

      I might just do that in 2016, but this year I am voting for Mitt. I would just like to see a Mormon in the office once. I don't think Mitt could do any worse.

      September 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Athy

      Mitt could (and would) do a lot worse. Fortunately, it doesn't appear that he'll have the chance to prove it.

      September 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • saywhaaa

      Why do you want a mormon in office (for once)?

      Its the magic underpants isnt it?

      Iknewitwasthemagicunderpants!

      September 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  16. Zeytin hasat makinaları, motorlu tırpan ve yedek parça üreticisi

    Wonderful work! That is the type of info that are meant to be shared around the net. Disgrace on the search engines for now not positioning this post higher! Come on over and seek advice from my web site . Thanks =)

    September 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  17. D. Mama

    Yes but not everyone has 5 wives at once. His grandfather left because he was breaking the law!

    September 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Athy

      But his grandfather isn't running for president.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Athy

      There are plenty of reasons to not vote for Mittzi, but what his grandfather did decades before he was born is not one of them. Why do you think it matters, D. Mama?

      September 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Abinadi

      At the time polygamy started it was not against the law. We believe in obeying the law, and so when the law was passed against it, the people had a choice between giving up their families or to flee to another country where it was not against the law.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  18. Peter Wolfe

    Mr Romney thinks of himself as a human avatar or God like human on Earth! Rich people want you to spend all of your money, so that they in turn get richer and don't spend their own money. Wake up people capitalism is only for people with money to play not for the typical small kid down the road and this rule definitely applies with financial and politics 100% Keep in mind that no recent U.S President in living memory sends their kids to wars or apply the same rules they apply on everybody else except when they benefit from it. The whole system is bought out by money and priviledge something that us poor disabled people will never have in the U.S

    September 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Peter, in deed, the purpose of a democracy is to keep rich people out of power. The first democracy was born in Athens Greece. As the story goes, a young prince wanted to be king, so when the old king died he threw his hat in the ring with the other princes, but was not chosen. So, he went storming off to Sparta and recruited an army, and returned, and at night they went through and killed every upper class family in Athens. When the common people awoke and learned what had happened, they stormed Mt. Olympus in rage and killed the prince and his followers. But, there was no one to rule! So, they decided to rule themselves and the first democracy was born. If the upper class hadn't been gone, they would never have permitted it.

      We actually agree on something! So, why am I voting for Mit? Well, because he is a Mormon and I trust him that he will do the right thing. I actually voted for Obama in 08, but I don't think he has accomplished anything so it is time to give someone else a chance.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Virginia Hanna

    The Mormons believe so strongly that The World is Coming To an End SOON and that Mitt Romney has been placed at the Right Time and Position to welcome Jesus Christ back to Earth. [ Wikipedia adam-ondi-ahman ] Doctrine & Covenants 57:3-10 and Book of Mormon Ether 13: 3=19 ] They feel so strongly that NOTHING will change his thinking otherwise. He is the Priesthood for this hour .Missouri USA will be The New Jerusalem nd they will be the Chosen People .. Christians evidently are now believe this also. So get Ready for the TERRORIST to take out Jerusalem.

    September 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, if the world is ending, who the hell cares about jeebus coming back?

      September 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Yes, Virginia, there is a , er, I believe the world is coming to an end. The prophesies are coming to pass and it will be brought on by the wickedness of the people. Henry B Eyring, couselor to the prophet, said the follwoing:

      Change is also accelerating in the world around us. Some of that change, like that in this university, is for the better. But much of the acceleration in the world is in troubles long prophesied for the last days. Each time you watch the evening news, you see stark evidence of that. You remember this scripture: “For behold, at that day shall he [meaning Satan] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good” (2 Nephi 28:20).

      The Lord told us in the time of the Prophet Joseph that war would be poured out upon all nations. We see tragic fulfillment of that prophecy, bringing with it increased suffering to the innocent.

      The giant earthquake, and the tsunamis it sent crashing into the coasts around the Indian Ocean, is just the beginning and a part of what is to come, terrible as it was. You remember the words from the Doctrine and Covenants which now seems so accurate:
      And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.

      For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.

      And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.

      And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people (Doctrine and Covenants 88: 88-91).

      September 18, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Athy

      Bullshit! The world has been here for over 4,000,000,000 years. Do you honestly believe it's about to end? Your post is laughable. Sad in its stupidity, but laughable to sensible people.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Abinadi

      I don't believe it will happen while Mitt is in office. I could tell you all the prophecies that must be fulfilled yet and I doubt it could happen sooner than 40 years.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Athy

      Whew! Man, that's a relief. You really had me worried, Abi. What with all those accurate, proven and reliable prophesies.

      September 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • niknak

      If it is comming to an end, then why not give away all your possesions to the poor Hanna?
      I bet you won't.
      Your god is a myth.
      Even if we as a species go extinct, the earth will be here for another 3 to 4 BILLION years.
      I know science was not your forte in your home school, but that is pretty well established.
      A mind is a terrible thing to lose, to religion........

      September 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Athy

      I don't think the loss of Virginia's mind is all that terrible.

      September 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Abinadi

      Well, if a tornado lands on your head, maybe you will take it more seriously, eh?

      September 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Athy

      Bring it!

      September 18, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  20. D. Mama

    Mitts grandfather ran off to Mexico to escape with his 5 wives. That is why Mitts dad was born in Mexico. Funny how we never hear anything about that. Wonder which wife was his grandmother?

    September 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Athy

      Why does this really matter? Everyone has to be born someplace.

      September 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Abinadi

      My great grandfather fled to Mexico with 3 of his four wives. He and Mitts grandfather probably knew each other well. Without poligamy, I wouldn't even be here. So, what is the big deal?

      September 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Abinadi

      My great grandmother was the 4th and youngest wife.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
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