Gingrich’s Iowa Political Director Leaves Campaign after ‘Cult of Mormon’ Remark
During a focus group on Wednesday the newly appointed political director for Newt Gingrich’s Iowa campaign stated that Mitt Romney’s religion — which he referred to as the “cult of Mormon” — will cost Republicans the election.
According to the Iowa Republican, Craig Bergman, in reference to the beliefs of an anti-Romney pastor, stated:
“There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon…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…There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”
But rather than cost Republicans the election, Bergman’s remark, which was made right before he was to start work on the Gingrich campaign — cost him his job. In a statement Tuesday evening, the Gingrich campaign said Bergman had “agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012.”
“He made a comment to a focus group prior to becoming an employee that is inconsistent with Newt 2012′s pledge to run a positive and solutions orientated campaign,” spokesman R.C. Hammond said in the statement.
Iowa Caucuses adds:
In October, a Texas minister ignited a firestorm for attacking Romney’s religion by calling it a “cult.” Robert Jeffress, a senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, was introducing rival presidential candidate Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit on Oct. 7 when he made his comment.
Perry’s campaign eventually disavowed Jeffress’ statement.
Bergman apparently hadn’t yet been hired by the Gingrich campaign when he participated in Wednesday’s focus group. The Iowa Republican’s editor, Craig Robinson, told The Des Moines Register this afternoon that Bergman identified himself as an undecided voter.
Bergman, a Des Moines Republican, joined the Gingrich campaign on Thursday, according to a report by Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy.
Linda Upmeyer, the chairwoman for Gingrich’s Iowa campaign, reached by telephone for reaction this afternoon, said she’s never heard Gingrich himself say anything negative about Mormonism.
“I’ve never had any discussion that resembled that with Speaker Gingrich,” Upmeyer said. “I have no doubt there are people that reject Mormonism but I’ve never engaged in a conversation regarding that, ever.”
In an interview with the Register, Romney said he doesn’t think religion should play a role in the election process.
“I don’t think the particular faith of an individual should become an issue in a campaign, but again it’s up to the people to decide what they want to do on their own. I think campaigns would be unwise to make a particular faith an issue in the campaign,” Romney said.
The Register reported that, in addition to serving as state director for Fair Tax for Iowa, Bergman worked for Ron Paul’s campaign four years ago.
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