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. Mike

    When you put religion into your government you end up with a government like the ones in the middle east. Christian extremists can be just as bad as Muslim extremist and the last thing you want is Romney dictating religion to the country.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • common sense needed

      Romney isn't a Christian

      September 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      When religion mixes with politics, it's religion that suffers, not politics.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  2. southernwonder

    romney is the right person to talk about fairly tale of nonexisitng heavenly father. the man just pathetic. he is more worried about netanyahoo's supposedly hurt feelings than our amry guys.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  3. Shuksan

    Do any extreme right wingers read the Gospels? Do they internalize it? Do they medidate on it? Give me a verse where Jesus is involved in governmental politics. He wasn't even worked up that that the Romans were an occupying force in Isreal.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  4. Ricky Gibson

    Many religious scholars will tell you that the commandment "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" is NOT about what you say when you hit your thumb with a hammer, but in times like this where you arrogantly claim you speak for God.

    That's God's decision to make. Putting words in His mouth is blasphemy.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • common sense needed

      Romans 10:14 ... and how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  5. Max

    Mormon? Mormonism? What is it?

    What is Mormonism? Who is Joseph Smith? Is Mormonism a 'CULT? Let Romney answer these questions...the evangelicals, the nation is waiting for some answers from the presidential candidate himself...ain't we all waiting??????

    September 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Mormonism is a joke that Joseph Smith lied himself into; he called it the Book of Mormon because he thought even his gullible flock would balk if he spelled it without the second "m."

      September 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  6. pottermaine

    Romney needs to shut up and climb back under the rock in his Leave It To Beaver world. How can I miss him, if he won't away?

    September 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  7. Brian from DC

    A Mormon talking about God?? It's like Chris Christie talking about salads!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  8. Shuksan

    Liberty University - the place that banned inter-racial dating until just a few years ago.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      But still bans rational thought.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  9. Jason

    Cool, speaking at one of the most fanatically evangelical and hair brained schools in the world. What a great way to booster your credentials.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • UncleM

      No it doesn't – proving you are a tw*t.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Hendrix1

      Delusional...looney...right prayer really changes things?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • nope


      September 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • nope


      September 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Rope a dope the nope.

      So why is it that the nope always appears in threads where people object to prayer-bot?

      It's so much more than coincidence that I have to assume a stronger connection.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Robert

      Prayer gives you the feeling of helping while you actually do nothing. My children we all raised Atheist and they are healthy happy members of the community.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • common sense needed

      The worst form of child abuse ids to deny a child eternal life.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  11. Shuksan

    Jesus said to pray in humility at the rear of the temple, and not "show off" like the Pharisees. Keep God out of politics.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  12. angry senior...

    no vote from this repub for the weirdo cultist non christian.....

    September 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • End Religion

      'ata boy you cantankerous old fool. Almost dead and you still haven't figured out all religion is false. But stay on your high horse. It suits you.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  13. Shuksan

    Jesus held up a coin and asked whose image was on it. Caesar's, not God's. Keep God out of politics. (And pay your taxes without complaining.)

    September 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • End Religion

      After the coin bit he likely stocked up on military gear to help keep mankind eternally mired in warfare. What a d!ckhead.
      "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36)

      September 14, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  14. SorryPaula

    He best not shove his god in front of me. I have my own.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • End Religion

      As long as his god is good and greased up he can shove him in front of me. I could use a place to plant my seed.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      In Mormonism there is not one god; there are many gods and each mormon plans to be one some day...delusion run wild.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  15. Robb

    Mitt can pander to the evangelicals all he likes. It won't get him elected and just sends the Independents running the other way. Keep playing to the wrong audience Mitt. It's working fine.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  16. Shuksan

    Jesus said his kingdom is not of this earth. Keep God out of politics.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • End Religion

      Jesus, the touted god of love and peace also is purported to have said, "Think not that I am come to send peace: I came not to send peace but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

      September 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  17. Alex Santana

    I just saw Romney's hack spokeman today, Richard Williamson. Why is that all the GOP mouthpieces are huge headed, ugly men? Look at Williamson...huge headed fool...look at Limbaugh...huge headed fool. Is it a requisite that to be a GOP spokesperson you have to be big headed and dog ugly? Williamson is the biggest fool of the day trying to blame Obama administration for the uprising in the Middle East. And the GOP lapdogs who suck this up are really to be pitied. Yuck..

    September 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • slim

      Romney look like Mr Ed a little bit.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Romney look like Mr Ed a little bit."
      He was created in god's image.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • jerseyjoe

      Which end of Mr. Ed are you referring to?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Which end of god are you referring to?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  18. SNAPPA

    First and foremost "god" does not belong in politics, period!! Second I love the photo in this article, look at them looking all sophisticated and trying to be all professional as if they were at a real college. Too funny.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Paininyourass

      What is wrong with you bigoted so called Christians? You should be up in arms! Your hate spewing DemiGODS should be preaching disgust and sending out burning and lynching mobs from their pulpits for even entertaining the thought that a DEMON inspired CULT such as the murdering (see Google Mormon massacre) polygamists, child molesting pedophiles called MORMONS could possible be running for POTUS.
      If a WHITE so called Christian was running against a Satan worshiping CULT such a the Mormons, with a Catholic side kick, you and your version of Jesus would fall off your CROSSES, but NO. The fact that a Christian BLACK man is running against a WHITE MORMON (cult in your book) is all good.
      I have and still sit in a pew every Sunday and listen to how The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Islam, Christian Science, Jehovah Wittiness, Buddha, and on and on and on are nothing but CULTS and going to hell.

      Wow – Let’s all agree to split this country up and each group go the separate ways.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • End Religion

      Agreed. And further, god does not belong in any discussion unless we're discussing fiction.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Paininyourass

      sorry SNAPPA – didn't mean to reply to your post – I was just trying to post.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  19. jigglefree

    Does any Christian care that he calls God an it? Yea that says more than enough for me. The past few days he's been acting like a desperate man. He has no idea of what it's going to take to run this country. If he couldn't take of the one state he was in charge of how will he take care of 50? Where are the Republicans getting their candidates. Last time it was McCain and I was mad. Give me someone I can support. And he thinks the middle class income is 200-250K...REALLY? What does that say to everyone that is bringing in a combined 80K?? They're just broke...heaven help those below that??

    September 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      "It" is as good a term as any. No one has met it. And anyway, supposedly it created mankind in its image; so it is both male and female. But really, why bother puzzling it out? All religion is fiction. Heaven isn't helping anyone, rich or poor.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  20. Addie

    So he's trying to make a distinction between him and Obama on the basis of Go - wow, he must feel he's got nothing else that he can out do Obama on.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:21 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.