Mitt Romney’s Ridiculous “God” Attack On Obama And The Democrats

Over the weekend, Mitt Romney was sounding more like Rick Santorum than himself.

Speaking over the weekend in Virginia, Mitt Romney used the Pledge of Allegiance to unleash a bizarre and unfounded attack on President Obama over the fact that the Democratic Party Platform had, initially, omitted a reference to God from its text:

[A]t a Saturday afternoon rally here, Mr. Romney did not just recite the Pledge of Allegiance; he metaphorically wrapped his stump speech in it, using each line of the pledge to attack President Obama.

“The promises that were made in that pledge are promises I plan on keeping if I am president, and I’ve kept them so far in my life,” Mr. Romney said, standing among old airplanes in a hangar at the Military Aviation Museum here. “That pledge says ‘under God.’ 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. We’re a nation bestowed by God.”

Mr. Romney was referring to a kerfuffle during the Democratic National Convention, when Mr. Obama’s party scrambled to amend its platform to include a reference to God, giving Republicans a chance to portray the party as out of touch with family values. But Mr. Obama has never suggested taking “God” off the nation’s coins, as Mr. Romney’s remarks also seemed to imply. When asked to comment, the campaign said that Mr. Romney was simply highlighting instances where “In God We Trust” was on public display.

Mr. Romney continued working his way through the pledge, moving to the part that refers to the nation as “indivisible.”

“I will not divide this nation,” he said. “I will not apologize for America abroad, and I will not apologize for Americans here at home.”

He said that for the nation to have liberty, “We must have a military second to none, so strong no one would ever think of testing it.” And that when it came to justice for all, “I don’t think it’s just to the next generation for us to pass on massive debts that we’ve amassed and pass on to them $16 trillion in debt.”

Mr. Romney’s ramped-up stump speech came as Pat Robertson, the televangelist whom Senator John McCain of Arizona once called an “agent of intolerance,” was sitting in the front row behind the stage. The men met and chatted briefly before the event.

“We pledge allegiance to that flag, we believe in a nation under God, a nation indivisible, a nation united, a nation with justice and liberty for all,” Mr. Romney said, “and for that to happen we’re going to have to have a new president that will commit to getting America working again, that will commit to a strong military, that will commit to a nation under God that recognizes that we the American people were given our rights not by government but by God himself.”

Mr. Obama’s campaign called Mr. Romney’s remarks “extreme and untrue,” and it accused him of “associating with some of the most strident and divisive voices in the Republican Party,” including Mr. Robertson.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of the entire event, though, came when Romney said this:

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Making reference for the first time to the Democrats’ about-face on having the word “God” in their party’s platform, Mitt Romney said here today that if he is elected, God will not be removed from the Republican platform.

“I will not take God out of the name of our platform,” said Romney to thunderous applause. “I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart. We’re a nation that’s bestowed by God.”

Now, I will admit that I haven’t read every word of the Democratic Platform (or the Republican one for that matter), nor have I watched every single speech by President Obama and Vice-President Biden and every media appearance by an Obama campaign spokesperson. So it’s possible I’ve missed the part when they came out in favor of taking God off of America’s coins and currency. I’m pretty sure, though, that they’ve never actually proposed anything like that and that such fantasies only exist inside the bizarre little minds of people like Pat Robertson.

The Obama campaign has already responded to Romney’s bizarre attacks:

Aboard “Press Force One” on a bus tour through Florida, Obama traveling Press Secretary Jen Psaki at first tried to pass on the question as not serious, but ultimately called the assertion “absurd.”

“Look, this is nothing more than a desperate attack based on a false premise by the Romney team and its sad that the debate has been driven to this level of discourse,” she said. “The president believes as much that god should be taken off a coin as he does that aliens will attack Florida. It’s an absurd question to be raised.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney chimed in, according to the pool report, citing his days as a reporter for Time Magazine.

“There’s a period when the argument is not going your way… and you begin to see random issues thrown up like spaghetti against the wall to see if anything can stick,” he said. “I wouldn’t say based on my experience covering presidential campaigns that that has ever worked as a strategy.”

Carney has a point there, but the truth is that we’ve seen attacks like this even from candidates who went on to win the election. In 1988, George H.W. Bush engaged in a rhetorical campaign that lasted several weeks in which he, and campaign spokespeople and surrogates, attacked Michael Dukakis for such things as his opposition to the mandatory recitation of the Pledge Of Allegiance in schools and his affiliation with the ACLU. The strategy then, of course, was to paint Dukakis as out of touch with the mainstream of American politics. One could argue that it worked given that Bush won the election, but I’d argue that his victory was due as much to incompetence by Dukakis and his campaign than the way people felt at the time about the Pledge of Allegiance and the ACLU.

In Romney’s case, though, one does get a sense of desperation when a candidate whose ties to the far right wing of the Republican Party is tenuous and mostly a marriage of convenience for both parties suddenly starts spouting rhetoric that sounds like it ought to come from a monologue by Sean Hannity or Mark Levin. It’s also bizarrely incompetent. In an election where the only relevant topic of discussion ought to be the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs, Mitt Romney decided for some reason to take up the mantle of culture warrior despite the fact that polling decisively establishes that this places him far outside the mainstream of American voters, and nowhere in the area where the independent voters in swing states like Virginia would need him to be. Yes, it’s true that there is a strong evangelical contingent in Virginia’s Tidewater area where Romney spoke yesterday, but those aren’t the people that he needs to convince if he’s going to win the Old Dominion as well as the other swing states that will decide this election. If this is more than just a one-0ff bizarre rant by Romney, if it represents some kind of shift in the campaign to a culture war argument, then I think he’s making a possibly fatal mistake.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, Religion, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jr says:

    This is what candidates do when they know they are losing.

    Granted I expect this in October, not September…..

  2. Stan says:

    Don’t worry about it, Doug, in a day or so Mitt will clarify his remarks. Then he’ll clarify his clarification. He’s our modern day Vicar of Bray.

  3. Me Me Me says:

    I guess that is why he hides his money in the Cayman Islands – to prevent Obama from erasing the “In God We Trust” lines.

  4. James H says:

    “The president believes as much that god should be taken off a coin as he does that aliens will attack Florida. It’s an absurd question to be raised.”

    “Klaatu Barada Nikto Tallahassee.”

    Well, there go the coins…

  5. PJ says:

    Someone’s getting desperate….

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Oh for God’s sake…..

  7. Murray says:

    After more than three years in the WH and despite all the training we gave him since his childhood, Comrade Obama still hasn’t managed to impose the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

    What a feckless revolutionary.

    I warned the Central Committee at the time, but they wouldn’t listen.

  8. Fiona says:

    I want to know what G-d bestowed on this country (“a country bestowed by G-d”). Perhaps Hinderaker can tell us when he chronicles Romney’s verbal gaffes and ponders who’s stupider–Romney or Ryan. Oh wait–that’s never going to happen.

    This kind of rhetoric smells of desperation, especially so early post convention. I expect the throwing of red meat to the disheartened base to increase exponentially if Romney’s poll numbers don’t go up. He really is a piss poor politician.

  9. Stonetools says:

    He’s losing the economic arguments, so it’s on to the culture wars. It’s a sign of desperation.
    Romney’s problem is that the public heard his argument that ” bush on steroids” would revive the economy and rejected it. Since its his only argument against Obama, he’s got nothing but culture arguments. It maybe ridiculous , but that’s all he’s got.

  10. Argon says:

    Well, like most other issues raised by the Romney campaign, the candidate doesn’t actually give a hoot about it. Like everything he’s done since his first year or two as governor of Massachusetts and probably before, is to say anything to become President. Why he wants to be President, or what he’ll do if he gets there, nobody can tell. The one thing we can be certain is that it’s his core character to lie about anything in order to reach his goals. The ends justify the means. No wonder he could get the Ayn Rand idolizing Ryan to sign on to his campaign.

  11. Argon says:

    @Stonetools: Yep, as Ann Romney insisted, ‘It’s all about the economy.’ Which, coming from a Romney means it isn’t.

  12. @Fiona:

    I want to know what G-d bestowed on this country (“a country bestowed by G-d”).

    Maybe he should have thrown a Moroni in there?

  13. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Don’t blame him. That’s all he’s got left. He can’t offer substantive proposals because their Bush 3.0. He can’t talk about himself because his successful businessman facade that knows about the economy and can turn it around is just that: a facade. He can’t talk about his religion and he certainly can’t talk about how much he cares about you, or your pain. His only offer is “I’m not Obama, therefore everything will be better if I get elected.” Good luck with that.

  14. PJ says:

    Maybe internal polling shows that Christian fundies aren’t supporting him?

  15. Latino_in_Boston says:

    *they are

  16. J-Dub says:

    Well, Mitt does believe that God presented himself in upstate New York and that heaven is somewhere in Missouri, or some crazy shit like that, so he probably does believe our country was bestowed by god. Does the magic underwear keep the monkeys from flying out of your butt?

  17. Tsar Nicholas says:

    There are a lot of thumpers in VA and in politics the “when in Rome” principle does have some merit. Of course the media’s reaction to this sort of thing will be high dudgeon mode. Sun rises in east.

    But that said this obviously is an example of an inept campaign team that’s prone to getting itself off message. Par for the course. I’m actually surprised Romney hasn’t stepped on his dick more often. By GOP standards he’s actually doing a decent job of campaigning, which is pretty f’n ironic and pretty f’n scary too.

  18. de stijl says:

    Doug:

    but those aren’t the people that he needs to convince

    Spot on. It’s bad politics because the people who would be swayed by this “argument” were already going to vote for Romney anyway. Everyone else sees it as weird, off-putting gibberish.

  19. MBunge says:

    If Palin hadn’t flamed out quite so spectacularly last time around, would the media be making a bigger deal of Mitt’s political ineptitude? Did she lower the bar so much that even someone with such poor political skills can now vault over it with ease?

    Mike

  20. Argon says:

    @de stijl: What it means is that he still hasn’t locked up his base. Look at the quick turnaround about his statements on insurance mandates to cover preexisting conditions.

  21. Lynda says:

    IIRC the only reference to God in the US Constitution was “Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven”.

    They did however put in “N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

    Damn unpatriotic socialists.

  22. de stijl says:

    @Argon:

    Thanks for the clarification. I was sloppy in my first statement: the people who could be swayed by Romney’s god-bothering are not necessarily voting for Romney, but rather against Obama. These are the voters who would always vote against Obama because that’s just who they are. Romney is not picking up any new votes with this line of attack.

  23. @Argon:

    No wonder he could get the Ayn Rand idolizing Ryan to sign on to his campaign.

    This isn’t very fair to Ayn Rand, he was not known for being a fan of politicians in general or Republican politicians in particular. She also hated the sort of crony corporatists that Romney and Ryan are the champions of.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    12% of all internet sites are related to porn…which is a multi-billion dollar industry…and the most popular day for viewing internet porn is SUNDAY.
    Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City Diocese was found guilty Friday of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to authorities.
    There were approximately 10,667 reported victims of clergy sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002.
    In spite of my First Amendment Right to not believe in God…Marco Rubio speaking at the RNC Convention implied that I am not a true American because “…”Our national motto is “In God we Trust,” reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.”

    If this nation was bestowed by God…she has some ‘splaining to do.

  25. sam says:

    “That pledge says ‘under God.’ 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. We’re a nation bestowed by God.”

    Wonder how he would respond if someone asked him if he would support a NASA mission to Kolob?

  26. Steve Verdon says:

    The president believes as much that god should be taken off a coin as he does that aliens will attack Florida.:”

    What?!?!?! Aliens are attacking Florida?!?!?!? Jesus Christ!!!!

  27. anjin-san says:

    So Romney is going social warrior while at the same time attempting to tack towards the center on policy? There is a hint of desperation in the air…

  28. Jeremy R. says:

    @Doug:

    Now, I will admit that I haven’t read every word of the Democratic Platform (or the Republican one for that matter), nor have I watched every single speech by President Obama and Vice-President Biden and every media appearance by an Obama campaign spokesperson. So it’s possible I’ve missed the part when they came out in favor of taking God off of America’s coins and currency. I’m pretty sure, though, that they’ve never actually proposed anything like that and that such fantasies only exist inside the bizarre little minds of people like Pat Robertson.

    Romney was dog-whistling a popular rightwing conspiracy theory, that makes the rounds every number of years, and that had another major flare-up on the RW blogs in ’09:
    http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/dollarcoin.asp

    I suppose it’s instructive in demonstrating that the debunking of these sorts of things never penetrates their echo chamber.

    Romney’s done this in the past with respect to farm regulation rumors as well.

  29. Peter H. says:

    Good God, what I wouldn’t give for a president who was an admitted agnostic, instead of having to witness this charade in which non-religious leaders feel compelled to show a pious face, regardless of their belief, or lack thereof.

    What a sorry thing our nation has become by making a person’s private religious feelings and beliefs fodder for our speculation and demands.

    Believe what you will, but for the love of God, please shut up about it.

  30. al-Ameda says:

    What’s next for Romney?
    He ties a Crucifix to the top of his Range Rover and campaigns throughout the Sunbelt?

  31. jukeboxgrad says:

    what I wouldn’t give for a president who was an admitted agnostic

    Yup, but don’t hold your breath. Gallup (2007) found that the number of people who would never vote for an atheist greatly exceeds the number who feel that way about Catholics, Jews, blacks, women, Hispanics or Mormons. Gays do worse than all those groups, but atheists do even worse than gays.

    Try to imagine a gay atheist president.

  32. Rjgus says:

    If Pat Robertson had his way, the Government would be taking out the word ‘God’ and replacing it with the word ‘Jesus’ on all of our United States’ documents!