SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman says he is Mormon, and he doesn't think his religion will be an issue if he decides to run for president.
"I believe in God. I'm a good Christian. I'm very proud of my Mormon heritage. I am Mormon," Huntsman told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday.
"Today there are 13 million Mormons. It's a very diverse and heterogeneous cross-section of people. And you're going to find a lot of different attitudes and a lot of different opinions in that 13 million," he added.
His remarks came a week after a Time magazine interview in which he said it was "tough to define" whether he still belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A Huntsman spokesman issued a statement after the Time interview was posted online May 12, saying Huntsman "remains a member of the church and proud to be part of the fabric of a large, vibrant faith."
Matthew Wilson, a Southern Methodist University professor who specializes in religion and politics, told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City that he thinks Huntsman is still trying to distance himself from the Mormon church to avoid the problems faced by fellow Republican Mitt Romney in his 2008 presidential campaign. Some evangelical Christians view the church as a cult.
"(Huntsman) clearly seems to be trying to hold the church at arm's length," Wilson said.
In his first network television interview since returning last month from Beijing where he served as U.S. ambassador to China, Huntsman told "Good Morning America" that his religion won't be an issue in the campaign.
Voters want someone focused "laserlike on jobs and keeping this economy moving forward in ways that will maintain our pre-eminence in the world," he said. "I think everything else that people like to talk about, in many cases, are less relevant. In fact, some are sideshows."
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com