Craig Bergman, Gingrich’s political director for Iowa, said in a focus group last week that many Christian conservatives were uncomfortable with Mormonism — GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon,” Bergman said during a focus group organized by TheIowaRepublican.com and McClatchy newspapers. “There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”
R.C. Hammond, a Gingrich aide, said that Bergman’s comments were inconsistent with Gingrich’s efforts to run a positive and big-tent presidential campaign.
Evangelicals are a key voting bloc in Iowa, yet Romney has said that he doesn’t think his faith will make a difference to voters in that state or in the nation.
“I think people want to have a president who has a conviction that there is a creator and looks to providence for guidance,” Romney said in an interview with the Des Moines Register.
When Romney ran in 2008, he gave a big speech on his faith, saying that he would not be beholden to his church if he made it to the White House, and making an active play for the evangelical vote.
In October, a Robert Jeffress, a prominent Texas pastor who backs Rick Perry called Mormonism a cult, a statement that Perry later disavowed.