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.