(CNN) – Bob Jones III, an influential evangelical leader, defended his support of Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid Sunday, despite the religious differences he has with the current GOP candidate.
"If this man can best run our country and can beat Hillary Clinton, then why should we be afraid of him, even though we vitally disagree with his Mormonism," Jones said on CNN's "State of the Union." "Mormonism is not Christianity and he understood that."
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"I respect the fact that he didn't try to present himself or Mormonism as Christianity," Jones told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, or Mormons as members are colloquially known, identify themselves as Christians.
Historically Mormons have broken theologically over issues like the Trinity, baptism and other scripture revelations, which has resulted in other Christian faiths not recognizing Mormons as Christians.
Some faiths go so far as to label Mormonism a theological cult as prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress did after an event last year where he endorsed Rick Perry for the GOP nomination.
However, Jones said a lack of cultivation is the reason he has yet to make an endorsement during the 2012 election cycle.
"In 2008, he was very solicitous of the evangelical vote," Jones said of the former Massachusetts governor. "If he is that today, I am unaware of it. I certainly have had no contact with him, and so I don't know whether he feels he needs it or wants it, whether he considers it a plus or a minus for him. That was a different dynamic then."
Jones made the comments before a meeting of Christian conservative leaders that led to the group's backing of Rick Santorum.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who said representatives winnowed the field to Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, announced the support of the former Pennsylvania senator Saturday.
In the same meetings, Perkins said there was little discussion for Romney's Mormon faith.
"This was not a bash-Mitt Romney weekend, it was focused on the positive," Perkins said. "It's not news that there is not strong support among conservatives for Mitt Romney, and that was reflected here."
Romney supporter Sen. John McCain said the endorsement is "bound to have some affect," but added it will not be "real significant."
"I'm convinced that we will come together and there's no doubt in my mind," McCain said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz, Eric Marrapodi and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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