Romney criticizes Perry again over supporter’s comments regarding Mormonism
October 12th, 2011
07:46 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney criticizes Perry again over supporter’s comments regarding Mormonism

Washington (CNN) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Wednesday again criticized Rick Perry over comments made by a Texas pastor who made derogatory comments about Mormons during a values summit last week.

During his introduction of Perry at the Values Voter Summit on Friday, Rev. Robert Jeffress said the Texas governor was a genuine follower of Jesus Christ unlike another candidate he did not name. Jeffress later said he believes voters should choose Perry over Romney because Romney is a Mormon and Mormons are “not Christians,” and also called Mormonism a cult.

“You know I think Gov. Perry was wrong to have as an introducer someone who said look this guy who you should vote for because he is one of us and that guy Romney should be disqualified because he is not. And when that gets said and when, after that Gov. Perry said hey that guy hit the ball out of the park,” Romney told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham on her radio show.

“The idea that we somehow as political candidates are going to encourage the American people to make our selection based upon religion that is an idea that is entirely foreign to a nation which was founded with religious tolerance, religious plurality, religious respect. I think that is just the wrong direction for the country and not within the spirit of our nation’s heritage,” he continued.

Perry has avoided questions on the issue but did tell reporters in Iowa on Friday he did not consider Mormonism a cult.

On Tuesday, Romney called on Perry to repudiate Jeffress’ comments.

“I just don’t believe that that kind of divisiveness based on religion has a place in this country,” Romney told reporters.

In reaction, Perry’s campaign said “Mitt Romney’s comments are a distraction from the fact that 'Romneycare' served as a blueprint for Obamacare.”

Organizers of the Values Voter Summit said they had selected Jeffress as the introductory speaker to Perry, but that his campaign had been notified prior and had not raised any objections.

Ingraham asked Romney if he thought the media would be bringing up his religion as the primary race moves forward.

“That may well be. It is hard to predict what will happen in that regard. I don’t think it will have much of a following to tell you the truth. I know there are some people who make their decision based upon someone’s religion. I am not going to change that. It is a free country. People are able to do that, but overwhelmingly in our country people who run for office have eschewed anything of that nature.”

In the 2008 campaign, Romney frequently dealt with questions about his Mormon faith and gave a speech talking about it.

– CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this story.

– You can follow Kevin Bohn on Twitter @KevinBohnCNN.


Filed under: Faith • Mitt Romney • Rick Perry • Values Voter Summit
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Gov. Perry's campaign is having a rough go at it lately. Some things money really can't buy. Brains.

    Doesn't Perry realize how bad he looked? It has been several weeks since the last debate. He was supposed to have been better prepared. He wasn't. He didn't even have a jobs plan ready. Perry offered up the excuse that he's only been "at this for 8 weeks" and Gov. Romney had been at it for months.

    Duh! Gov. Perry's name had been thrown around for a least a couple of months before he actually declared. The man admitted that he joined the race unprepared, and came to the debate unprepared. Like I said, money can't buy brains.

    October 12, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. Richard

    I guess I would consider myself a Christian although I haven't attended church for years except for my neice's wedding of late. Mormons believe in separate stages of heaven and reaching them depends upon your position in the church down here on earth. They believe in wearing special under garments – men and women- and are shown by other members how to do it properly (weird.) Is Romney, in our nation's time of need going to require special underwear to function. mixing underwear and the church is kinky.
    I'm afraid this wacko Jeffress in Texas is correct on this one, unfortunately. This is not Christianity in my opinion, but I would not go as far as calling it a cult, in today's connotation of the word.

    October 12, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. ddrew78

    Personally I don't care what religios views you have as a candidate for President. What I do care about is that you keep them at home. Make your decisions as a candidate (and possibly President) not based on your religious views, but based on what is best for the country, and based on what's right. I don't care if you're the most conservative christian to ever be in the White House, when it comes to abortion, it's between the woman making the choice and God. You have nothing to do with it.

    When it comes to gay marriage, let's make sure we have equal rights and protections (to include social security survivor benefits, tax breaks, etc) for everyone.

    The list goes on and on. But, you get my drift. Don't mess with peoples rights just because you personally disagree. As long as you follow those rules, you can be a muslim for all I care.

    October 12, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. sensible

    Republicans don't ACT like Christians, anyway!

    October 12, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. GOP = Greed Over People

    Just realize that Perry and Jeffress are bigots and move on.

    We have.

    October 12, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. zb

    So hate against Mormons is no good according to Romny, but hate against Gays is okay? Once again we are reminded that the Republican/Tparty is the party of hate and hypocrisy. Virtually every one of the candidates has demonstrates some form of bogotry against some group. They just don't like it when its against them.

    October 12, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. james Miller

    Definition of ignorance/apathy = I don`t know/ I don`t care........

    October 12, 2011 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  8. fernace

    This issue speaks loud & clear why religion should not be an issue in a political campaign! The GOP-TP have worked their religiosity into every aspect of what they believe & how they base their beliefs & work their campaigns! The result is far away from the poltics we used to know, & far from the constitutional rules we base our government on! Church must be kept separate from politics, because 1 aspect is logistical & the other emotional! Let's keep it that way! It serves us well!!

    October 12, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Fredrick

    Flip flopping

    One's religious affiliation is ALWAYS questioned when one is running for presidential nomination, or president for that matter. When Obama was being dragged through the mud with respect to the belief that he was a Muslim it was a very BIG DEAL. It is simply a part of the vetting process and Romney just needs to accept it as such and move on. He knows by now that the south will never support him as opposed to a southern Christain such as Perry.

    In a sense, he is the one who is stretching this thing out. Why doesn't he just ignore it. A pastor is free to say what he believe about a religion whether he's right or wrong. Romney knew from the outset that his religion would be questioned, he is simply trying to give it traction as a way to deflect from the fact that he is a flip-flopper on several important issues such as health care, the bank bail out and abortion. Is he now going to flipflop on his religion for political gains?

    He needs to focus on how he will run as a flip-flopper against the democratic machinery. It is going to be more difficult for him to overcome the FACT that he is a flip-flopper, than the FACT that he is a Mormon.

    It is easy to give a speech and explain where he stands as a Mormon. It is impossible to give a speech explaining where he stands with his flipflopping which is steering him in the face.

    The republicans are currently in a dilemma, that is, finding someone steady to represent the party and effectively campaign against Obama. Romney will not be able to pass the test of flip-flopping when there are so many videos out there showing him supporting the same policies he is now against. He was for it, now he is against it.

    That is what he need to seriously think about in oppose to thinking about a pastor's personal conviction about him and his religion. We have our Bill of Rights which includes freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The pastor is free to exercise his rights.

    It seems fair to say that he can now be called 'Romney the Flip-flopper'.

    October 12, 2011 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If Obama had to deal with this kind of crap with Wright, then Perry needs to show he is man enough to stop the hate. There is no reason that Perry can't tell the guy to stop. I guess that Perry can't alienate his fellow Dominionists with telling a pastor to cool his speech.

    October 12, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  11. Larry L

    Just think about the basic mythology from both LDS and the various flavors of Christianity... Anybody stupid enough to buy any of those fables is too stupid to lead a modern nation. It's even more amusing to see them hammering each other.

    October 12, 2011 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  12. Chuck

    “The idea that we somehow as political candidates are going to encourage the American people to make our selection based upon religion that is an idea that is entirely foreign to a nation which was founded with religious tolerance, religious plurality, religious respect.” – Mitt Romney, 2011

    "Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero. The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site." – Statement released by Mitt Romney, 2011.

    October 12, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  13. BB

    Who will tell this circus clown in a simple language he can understand! being a mormon is not the problem for him! the real issues here is for him being a moron without a stand who happens to follow mormonic faith.

    October 12, 2011 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  14. mk1

    I'm wondering when Catholics will finally realize that evangelicals hold them in as much contempt as they do Mormons. Actually, evangelicals hold everyone with different beliefs with contempt, they just aren't quite as vocal about it as that idiot pastor from Texas, but then again, he is from Texas so what would you expect.

    October 13, 2011 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  15. B W Styles

    Ah...the rise and fall of Slik Rik Perry. I saw this coming from a mile away. And I do believe that he hasn't even come close to digging all of the skeletons put from behind his good-ol-boy facade. Stay tuned.

    October 13, 2011 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  16. J.V.Hodgson

    I find all this conversation a clear example of Republican duplicty, although Romney's comments have some reasonableness.
    It remains duplicitous because one way or the other Religion and politics should be separated if you support the whole constitution/ bill of rights.
    No one denies a persons right to vote for or against a candidate who has a specific religious viewpoint on any topic sufficiently important to them individually to change thier vote or even not to vote, for any candidate.
    If I were a candidate and asked a question about :-
    1) What was my religion? Answer that's between me and my conscience and personal faith.
    2) Questioner but I know you go to X Baptist, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Mormom or whatever church. What do you think about Abortion, Gay marriage ( civil union) DOMA, DADT or etc etc.Answer Sir or Madam, again that is a matter initially of my personal conscience and faith, but also in this great nation of ours; to on occasion ,as is necessary, vote to protect the rights of minorities. I cannot tell you how precisely I will vote on the issues mentioned as it may vary based on the precise content of legislation submitted, national and not pure or absolute state only considerations ( especially true for Senators)
    Thank you for your questions I hope I can count on your vote but if you need Yes /no answers then its better you vote for another person. I am neither affiliated or unaffiliated with any organisation for or against on these matters.
    I have to VOTE the interests of the nation as a whole on all matters, not those of specific religious groups or for that matter powerful corporate lobbying groups or any other similar organisations,if I am to be your Representative or Senator
    Why, because one day you might be in the minority and I could very conceivably vote to protect you and those who share your view.
    Thats called democracy and I will not buy your vote by the religious committment you seek, OR corporate Lobbying needs, OR any specific interest groups OR union groups.
    Trust me to vote the nations interests at all times or another person who ( ideally) will do the same, or satisfy your current religious needs.
    Get all these special item considerations out of US politics.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    October 13, 2011 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  17. NoTags

    I don't like Rick Perry and would never vote for him, however Rev. Jeffress statements about the LDS Church are correct.

    October 13, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  18. vp

    “The idea that we somehow as political candidates are going to encourage the American people to make our selection based upon religion that is an idea..."

    That is EXACTLY what the Evangelical Right wants.
    and the Republican Party has encouraged it and benefited from it until now.

    and now they don't like it.

    They've triangulated themselves into a corner and there's no way out.

    October 13, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Truth hurts

    Anyone who has read the history and formation of the Mormon Church, and has an ounce of common sense, would ridicule it and call it a cult. I'm not letting other religions off the hook here – they are all cults of varying sizes and based on wish thinking, myths, fairy tales, threats and promises – it's just that the Mormon religion is so basically silly and transparently fake that it stands out from the others!

    October 13, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. james Miller

    Jeffress may believe any belief other than Southern Baptist is a cult. This guy LOVES to be center stage with his "flock".

    October 13, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. vp

    I think it's even worse than that;
    The Evangelicals believe it is their DUTY to elect a Christian that believes the way do.

    and Mormons and Catholics don't count as Christians to them.

    October 13, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Pat in IL

    Romney is spot on right. This country was founded on religious freedom. Perry is failing because his lack of knowledge and sense is showing up more and more. I don't know where he went to school, but he learned about as much as GW did. What's wrong with Texans that they put up with that kind of person for their governor?

    October 13, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. Pat

    All Obama has to do is get more pastors to speak to their hearts content. Perry is finished, the Mormon is next baby.

    October 13, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. james Miller

    I see a candidate`s religious beliefs rapidly becoming paramount over all other qualifications for US President .---- Isn`t that what Iran has ?????? A Muslim Imam having a major impact on every day governmental decisions !!!!!!

    October 13, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. m

    This is complete idiocy. By moving primaries up and up it will only hurt the final repub nominee. They will be exposed too early (and more likely to do something stupid) and could become an obsolete candidate who has already been thrown out by the time the actual election takes place. Way to go, way to go...

    October 13, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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