Gingrich Iowa director out for Mormon slur

Dec. 14, 2011 at 11:01 AM
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DES MOINES, Iowa, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The Iowa political director for Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich resigned after making a disparaging remark about the Mormon faith.

Craig Bergman was with the Gingrich campaign less than a week before he left Tuesday after suggesting evangelicals were prepared to "expose the cult of Mormon," the faith of GOP presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, McClatchy Newspapers reported Tuesday.

Bergman made the remarks before he joined Gingrich's campaign during a focus group Dec. 7.

"There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon," Bergman said in the focus group. "A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of [President Barack] Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon. ... There's a thousand pastors ready to do that."

Gingrich's campaign announced Tuesday Bergman was no longer with the campaign.

"Craig Bergman agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012 today," Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said in a statement. "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."

Surveys indicate Romney's religion could present a problem for the former Massachusetts governor in his bid to be the party's 2012 presidential nominee. A poll last month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that white evangelical Protestants were more inclined to view Mormonism as a non-Christian faith than the general voting public.

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