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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Romney Uses Lines From Pledge to Criticize Obama


VIRGINIA BEACH - Mitt Romney is fond of reciting things.

In the early days of New Hampshire, it was a poem, “The Coming American,” by Sam Walter Foss. Later on, it was choice verses from “America the Beautiful.”

But at a Saturday afternoon rally here, Mr. Romney did not just recite the Pledge of Allegiance; he also 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. “T hat 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 Americ ans 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 onto 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 labeled 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.

“This isn't a recipe for making America stronger,” said Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign. “It's a recipe for division and taking us backward.”