(Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reacted Saturday to Democrats' initial hitch in having the word "God" in their party's platform, saying Americans will have to have a new president that will commit to a nation under God.
"We believe in a nation under God, a nation indivisible, a nation united, a nation with justice and liberty for all," Romney said, reciting the final clause of the Pledge of Allegiance, as he spoke at a military museum in Virginia Beach, Va., on Saturday afternoon.
"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," the former Massachusetts governor added, taking aim at President Barack Obama's party for initially removing any reference to "God" from the party's platform.
"I will not take God out of the name of our platform," Romney vowed. "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."
The Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., which concluded on Thursday night, amended the platform on the second day to include the word "God" and name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Democratic Party's 2008 platform mentioned "God," though just once.
A motion by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to insert the words "God" and "Jerusalem" back into the Democratic Party's platform after the platform committee passed the original version omitting the words required a voice vote in the party's convention hall. The amendments needed a two-thirds majority approval to pass. After it was determined that the motions passed, many booed.
Romney recalled reciting the Pledge of Allegiance when he was in the fourth grade. "I remember as a boy, I was in the fourth grade, somehow in my mind I remember being there in the fourth grade in front of the blackboard, we had an American flag that was pinned in front of the blackboard. And every day we stood, lined up in front of that blackboard and we recited the pledge of allegiance. Do you remember?" he asked.
"When I make a promise I intend to keep a promise, and I've done that through all my life. When I made that promise time and time again in my pledge of allegiance to the flag I remembered that flag and I remember it to this day," Romney added.
The GOP nominee pledged not to divide the nation or "apologize for America abroad." He also vowed to have a strong military. "For us to have liberty here, for us to be able to protect ourselves from the most evil around the world, for us to share liberty with our friends around the world, we must have a military second to none, so strong no one would ever think of testing it."
Romney linked the need for dealing with debts to "justice for all." "I also don't think it's justice for all when a nation as prosperous as ours, the most prosperous major nation in the history of the earth, to have one in every six people below the line of poverty."
The Obama campaign was quick to respond to Romney's speech, calling it a "Hail Mary" pass -- a desperate long throw in the dying moments of an American football game when defeat is nigh. AFP quoted spokeswoman Lis Smith as saying that Romney had launched "extreme and untrue attacks against the president." She accused the GOP candidate of "associating with some of the most strident and divisive voices in the Republican Party."
The Romney team countered the accusation, saying it was Obama's campaign, not Romney's "that pits people against each other." "It's just so far from what he promised voters when he was a candidate," campaign adviser Kevin Madden was quoted as saying.