Huckabee refused to give his thoughts on Mormonism Tuesday.
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) – Mike Huckabee has evangelicals to thank for helping him surge in the polls and in Iowa, Mitt Romney is his chief rival for those votes.
Still, the former Baptist preacher is trying to steer clear any comments about Romney’s religious beliefs that might help him gain support among those voters, some of whom believe that the Mormon faith is a cult.
Huckabee has refused to say whether he shares that belief.
“I’m just not going to go around evaluating other people’s doctrine and faiths, that is absolutely not a role for a president to engage in,” Huckabee told CNN.
The former Arkansas governor held an event at his Iowa headquarters Tuesday where he accepted the endorsement of some three dozen of the state’s religious leaders. He is currently running an Iowa campaign ad on the importance of faith in his life.
But he’s avoided taking advantage of widespread evangelical suspicion of Mormonism, saying he’s “not going to be critical of other candidates.”
“We ought to be talking about education and health care and energy independence and all these other things,” said Huckabee. “And for me to discuss anybody’s faith, whether it’s Mitt Romney’s or John McCain’s or Rudy Giuliani’s or Hillary Clinton’s – other than to say I want to have great respect for anyone else’s belief system – it’s theirs to explain, not mine.”
When asked by another reporter for his views, as a Baptist minister, of the Mormon faith, he responded: “I am running for president – and if I’m invited to be the president of the theological school, that will be a perfectly appropriate question. But to be the president of the United States, I don’t know that that will be the most important issue I’ll be facing when I’m sworn in.”
– CNN’s Dana Bash