Huntsman: Mormon controversy a 'political sideshow'
October 10th, 2011
03:46 PM ET
11 years ago

Huntsman: Mormon controversy a 'political sideshow'

(CNN) - Responding to a Baptist minister's labeling of the Mormon faith as a "cult," presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, one of two Mormons running for the White House, said the resulting firestorm over the pastor's comments has become a "political sideshow."

"I think that we have such limited bandwidth in terms of what this nation focuses on and discusses and makes a priority," Huntsman told reporters Monday after a New Hampshire event. "This is a political sideshow."

Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church Dallas, sparked controversy Friday when he called on Christians to vote for Texas Gov. Rick Perry over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney because of Romney's Mormon faith.

Romney has yet to publicly respond to the pastor's remarks, but he directed some discontent toward another religious leader Saturday during his speech at the Values Voter Summit, a social conservative conference put on by the Family Research Group.

"Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind," Romney said. "The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate."

On Monday, Huntsman, who's aggressively campaigning in New Hampshire in hopes of winning the first-in-the-nation primary, said the issue was "nonsense" and argued voters had other things to worry about in a time of high-unemployment and with troops involved in two wars abroad.

"I can't even relate to it in a sense, because it's so inconsequential," Huntsman said. "It's so meaningless to so many people."

Filed under: 2012 • Faith • Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney • Values Voter Summit
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. GOTP losers are a cancer to the USA

    The false religion is easy to spot – it's the one that claims to follow Jesus, but reveals it's narrowmindedness and hatred of others at every opportunity.

    October 10, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  2. rs

    Huntsman is right. Unfortunately, the fundamentalist Tea Party bigots are not going to go quietly with a Mormon. The GOP/TP made this bed, now they have to lay in it.

    October 10, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  3. joe

    thank you finally a candidate that get's it....i might no agree with everything, but he is correct that none of this sideshow effects our lives, it's a distraction

    October 10, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. justaman

    That particular so-called "Baptist preacher" must have long ago forgot one thing, if he is really a God-called preacher: his job is to preach the gospel of Christ, not a one "denomination" over another gospel. The gospel takes care of doing the separating. All that preacher has is his influence; he's now totally destroyed any possibility that he might find a Mormon in his congregation who would be receptive to his message. I'm not of his "Baptist", but I am a Baptist minister, myself. You don't ever want to destroy a possiblity of someone hearing your message. Guess our political leaders and wannabel could take a page out of that song book.

    October 10, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Ed DFWTX

    I find it funny somone like a Baptist can condeme the Mormons. Personally, some of us Americans think Baptists are much worse than cults. At least cults don't campaign for presidential candidates while getting tax exempt status like Pastor Jeffres and The First Baptist Church of Dallas. Tax Exempt groups are suppose to stay out of politics.

    October 10, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. CKPS

    I like Huntsman, but cannot help wonder what he thinks he is doing in the same party with the teabag folks. Either (a) he just doesn't understand the nature of the current of the GOP and really thinks that his "calmer-heads-prevail" approach is scoring points, or (b) he is fervently praying that the right-wingers running the show will somehow go away by the time he makes his real bid in 2016 and that all of his "reasonableness" this time around will somehow be remembered four years from now. Sad to say, Romney's faith (and Huntsman's, for that matter) are NOT sidewshows at all to the religious zealots who currently hold the GOP hostage. To the contrary, imposing their narrow religious views on the rest of the country often seem to be the only thing this angry mob really cares about.

    October 10, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. zip

    Media outlets need to focus on the real issue. Mormons believe that Jesus appeared in America in 1820. Literally. Does someone have the courage to ask Romney if he believes Jesus appeared in America in 1820? Because the vast majority of Christians think that is blasphemy. And that is why Romney will never be president. Ever.

    October 10, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. BK

    Every religion is a false one when it's used for bigotry and political gain.

    October 10, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. Happy Birthday FOX NEWS!! 15 years of fair and balance reporting, #1 in cable news!

    Who cares about religion... Nobody is running for pope people!

    October 10, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. The Greedy Old PIgs have declared class war on US!

    Actually, Jon, your entire GOBP deathcult is a "political sideshow".

    October 10, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. LeRoy_Was_Here

    Huntsman, alas, has no chance of winning the Republican nomination. He is the one pro-science candidate in a party that has become the anti-science Know-Nothing party of 21st century America.

    October 10, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. JLC

    What i find disconcerting is that Huntsman is so far back in the polls.

    October 10, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Dixie Independent voter

    I agree that the Republican race is a side show. That isn't what he meant?

    October 10, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    The main street media just LOVES to play this baloney up...

    October 10, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. Whoosh

    The GOP/TP made this bed, now they have to lay in it. The consequences of keeping your mouth closed when they go after
    others religion. Rest assured, your silence invite them to come after you next

    RS u r on point!

    October 10, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Patrick from Minnesota

    For once, thank you Mr. Huntsmen! At least we have one Republican that doesn't act like he's posessed 24-7.

    October 10, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. westward

    Bigotry is not a sideshow. It divides. And this country sure doesn't need any more of that. Why not have all the candidates put all their cards on the table while the American people are still determining who they will vote for? Last time I looked, transparency was a good thing, Mr. Huntsman.

    October 10, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Mr. Ambassador, you would be a lot more credible on this issue if you just simply came out stated that Jeffress' remarks were improper and out of line. Don't be scared. It doesn't look good on a presidential candidate. No one else has the guts to lead the condemnation. What have you got to lose?

    October 10, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Kman821

    Huntsman's intelligence, common sense and decency are exactly why he's polling so pooring among the all those insane tea-bagging GOP candidates. He's the only Republican who comes across as a real Christian and patriot. Romney's not crazy, but he's taken both side of every major issue at one time or another, so how would anyone know who the real Romney is?

    October 10, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Tami Clements

    It has alot to do with it, I don't want a mormon in there. It is a cult.

    October 10, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Ray

    The thing that stands out with this issue is this, it didn't come from some obscure offshoot church, the statement was made by the head preacher of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, which is as mainstream as it gets. Not only is evangelical Christianity intolerant, it's intolerable as well for a great country like the United States. It's time people realize this and stand up for America.

    October 10, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Penobscot

    Huntsman is a smart dude...but he can't win in the GOP...he is too normal. He and Romney need to leave all the GOP quacks behind and head to the Democratic party.

    October 10, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    there is still a section of Huntsman's party that LOVES this kind of thing. Going after a person because of his or her religious beliefs. And the other right wing candidates not coming out to denounce it (aka Bachmann, Cain, Santorum) because they are afraid it might hurt their base is proof of it. In fact the chair of the RNC should come out and denounce it and he has yet to do so. But what can you expect from folks that still think Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim? I am not surprised at all by this.

    October 10, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Betsy

    Ever since Palin became a Teapublican "star" the whole gang of these candidates has become more a carny freakshow, not merely a sideshow.

    October 10, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  25. Anomic Office Drone

    I find Huntsman to be the only one in the GOP race who seems to have a realistic worldview. His numbers, on the other hand, aren't quite as good.

    October 10, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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