Romney criticizes Perry again over supporter’s comments regarding Mormonism
October 12th, 2011
07:46 PM ET
11 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. GOPDisillusioned

    Give it a rest already, Mitt!

    It's just not possible to dig into every angle of the belief system of who may or may not endorse you. As a Mormon myself, I really don't care if Perry has a Baptist pastor endorse his candidacy. Mormons will NEVER pass the Baptist/other Evangelical litmus test for what constitutes a Christian. There's nothing new here. The Mormon church, while encouraging respect and civility, similarly does not recognize the authoritative Christian legitimacy of Pastor Jeffress' church. Pastor Jeffress is perfectly free to endorse whoever he chooses and encourage his congregation to follow. I really find nothing offensive about that.

    Mitt risks further alienation by milking this further. Back to the important stuff, PLEASE!

    October 13, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. Todd Morgan

    I have been a Mormon for over 40 years. Mormons are normal people doing good in the world.

    Yes, we believe that in "my fathers house there are many mansions" – we believe that there are different kingdoms in the next life not just "one size fits all" in the afterlife. This is based on revelation and on the New Testament teachings – We believe that we will be judged, but that we are saved by grace through Jesus Christ. No amount good works here can qualify us to be saved, that is 99.99999% Jesus and we have to believe, have faith, and live the on this earth, especially if we have been chosen out of the world to be a witness for him. Peter was chosen my Jesus and he said I will make you a "fisher of men"

    so called experts out there no NOTHING about Mormons, there are 14 million of us. To summarize why people are mormon (or any other religion) would fill volumes and volumes of books and take up an entire city. We are good people, we have convictions which is the result of many spiritual experiences which have led us to believe. Any person could learn to respect a religion if they truly studied the religion.

    October 13, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    This is nothing new. Look how some American treated president Obama.

    October 13, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  4. taximan

    The terms Christian and Republican are oxymorons. True Christianity was started by a revolutionary Jewish rabbi with a special divine lineage. It is a radical, as-far-left-wing-as-possible, faith when practiced the way it's supposed to be. The term "values" is insulting, because it reflects the typical Republican Christian snobbery that their belief is the only way to heaven, when in reality it is the rambling of the new Pharisees. Jesus came to allow the poor and the sinners to have a voice, and basically told the rich and powerful that their entry into heaven required going through the eye of a needle. More later

    October 13, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Truth hurts

    One point frequently ignored in these issues is that if you truly believe and endorse all the facets of ANY religion, then there is no room for tolerance of other faiths. It's one of Christian ten commandments for goodness sake! They all preach hell and damnation for unbelievers and adopters of other religions... "religious tolerance" is purely for political expediency, but is nothing that ANY true religious person can advocate and still stay true to the tenants of their faith at the same time.

    October 13, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. DA

    Well, Mitt looks like you need to deal with it!!! The President had to deal with Rev Wright so, you need to do the same or get off the porch!! The more you talk about it the more you look like you can't handle the job!! Mind you I don't plan on voting for you anyway, but you need to MAN UP!!! OBAMA 2012!!

    October 13, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Save the Rich, vote GOP

    Is Mormonism a cult? Sure. Is Christianity, Judaism, etc? Yes. So what's the point?

    October 13, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Katie

    Mormons are Christians. They follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. If some aspects are "weird" or "kinky", when there are plenty of other supposedly Christian religious that have "weird" or "kinky" aspects too. (Catholics believe they are eating Christ's body and drinking His blood – how icky is that?) I will say this for the Mormons that I know – they are MUCH MORE Christian in their actions toward other people than most self-claiming Christians. They routinely show tolerance and respect and they are not so known to shun or insult people and then justify it on some Biblical passage as many supposed 'Christians' do.

    October 13, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. KN

    To: Truth hurts
    Calling a religion transparently fake is a big accusation, I hope you have actually done research because as far as I see, the money and aide they give to countries all over the world is quite real.

    October 13, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. dat5r

    I'm not religious but I think that if I completely believed the truth of one religion then I would want to vote for someone of the same religion. Romney is trying to make it seem like he's being discriminated against, but he's not really. The guy said look, we've got two people who are viable candidates, and one of them believes all the same things we do. Let's vote for him. They're not saying that Romney shouldn't be allowed to run or isn't a viable candidate because of his religion. They're saying they support Perry's religious views, and since the guy chose to be a pastor, I'd say religion ranks highly on his list of important aspects of candidates. This is just the media trying to drum up controversy and Romney trying to play the victim.

    October 13, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Namepolert

    Ask mitt who going to meet him at pearly gates, its a big sin, google it

    October 13, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. notborncynical

    Once again religion raises its ugly head.

    October 13, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. mod

    Most religions have some sort of rites or traditions that the rest of us woud find really weird. I don't think Perry is a jerk for not disavowing this pastor – but it does seem ignorant. Who gets to define what is Christian? Plus, I have Mormon friends and they are about as Christian as I think you can get. But in the end, who cares?

    October 13, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. JM

    Mitt Romney is a rich Donald Trump person. I don't have a lot of money. I would never consider voting
    for Romney. He is a rich man who doesn't care about poor people.

    October 13, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |

    Mitt is no patriot. He stood up in front of a hand-picked group of cadets at the Citadel after renting the hall and assembling a non-official function with invited ones in uniform, then told them that their commanding officer (the commander in chief) doesn't want America to be first. That's not patriotic, Mitt.

    October 13, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. keith

    Mr. Romney, who has made continued ugly statements about worshipers of Islam which is a religion covered under the freedom of the Constitution is now crying foul when his religion comes under attack. Mr. Romney's problem is once again his duel positions on a issue. Which Mitt Romney is running for President? Do we really know.

    October 13, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. LWT

    I find it funny that anyone on the right is saying that the election should in no way be based on religion. It is a double standard, because candidates on the right have no problem decrying Roe v. Wade or gay rights because of God.

    October 13, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. Arthur

    So, Perry continues to duck the proper response to the evangelist. In that act, or lack thereof, he is supporting a religious basis for his candidacy. That means that he believes the American public can't be given facts on stances that a politician holds, in order to make their decision. Instead, he holds that the American public is unable, or too ignorant to make a choice on anything other than religion. He fires off that Romney provided a basis for Obamacare in response to the extremist evangelism remark! Either Perry is too slow, thick, dumb, or simply ignorant , to recognize the questions posed to him make a differnce in a real Americans mind. Perry has many traces of evidence that point to some ugly things: prejudice against blacks (the name of the ranch), opposition of hispanic immigration, propensity for violence (carries a gun while jogging.... and he's not a cop!), and now the support of radical Christian Evangelicalism in support of anti-Mormon remarks. Perry is too scary!

    October 13, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Thor

    Hey ... "Truth Hurts"... actually the Judeo/Christian faiths following the ten commandments follow "Thout shall have no false gods before me." ........ So........ which god said that? I am sure it was the only "one" and "true" "god". For all I can tell from this bantering of children, that one god can be any of the "true" gods of man.

    October 13, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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