VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Making a play for veterans and evangelical voters in this conservative military community, Mitt Romney pounded President Barack Obama for failing to stop defense spending cuts that were part of a deficit-cutting deal and accused him of straying from the nation's founding principles.
At a military museum Saturday afternoon, the Republican presidential candidate tried out a new version of his stump speech that, compared with past speeches, was unusually heavy with references to God and centered on the Pledge of Allegiance. Televangelist Pat Robertson, the host of the Christian Broadcasting Network's 700 Club, met with Romney briefly before the event, but a Romney aide said the two men did not discuss Romney's remarks.
After spontaneously reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in his speech, Romney noted that U.S. coins bear the motto "In God We Trust" and said he would resist any move to change that. It was unclear what prompted the remark because striking the motto has not been proposed in recent memory by anyone in mainstream politics, including the president.
He then segued into a criticism of Democrats for initially removing a reference to God in their party platform last week at the Democratic National Convention. The reference to God was later restored, at the insistence of Obama.
"For me, the Pledge of Allegiance and placing our hand over our heart reminds us of the blood that was shed by our sons and daughters fighting for our liberty and sharing liberty with people around the world," he said. "The promises that were made in that pledge are promises I plan on keeping if I'm president, and I've kept them so far in my life. The 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 that's bestowed by God."
Romney adviser Kevin Madden said Romney made the reference to U.S. coins as an "example of where a principle like 'In God We Trust' is already on public display."
Before an audience filled with veterans, Romney and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who introduced the Republican nominee, said Obama had not done enough to halt pending defense cuts slated to take effect next year.
Ryan to begin debate prep today in Oregon
How does a candidate ready himself to face off in front of millions against Vice President Joe Biden?
For Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee, preparing to debate Biden means increasing amounts of time closeted away in hotel rooms and ever-thicker briefing books.
After headlining two closed-door fundraisers in California on Saturday and visiting Google headquarters to host an online "hangout" with campaign volunteers, Ryan today will take a day to huddle with advisers in the Portland, Ore., area for his first full day of debate preparations, the Washington Post reported it learned from two Romney aides traveling with Ryan.
Ryan and Biden will debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky., on Oct. 11.
GOP senator uses Obama for help in ad
President Barack Obama is appearing in yet another television commercial in the Massachusetts Senate race. This time, it was not produced by the Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Warren, but by the Republican, Sen. Scott Brown.
The advertisement, which was scheduled to start running Saturday, shows Obama praising Brown for sponsoring a bill to end insider trading in Congress. As Obama signs the measure into law, he thanks Brown, saying, "Good job."
Brown and Warren are locked in the most expensive Senate contest in the country and one of a handful that will determine which party controls the chamber next year.
The race is distinctive in another way: In this state, Obama is so popular that candidates from both parties are trying to hitch their wagons to his star.
This report uses information from Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and New York Times.