Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. The cultural conservatives at the summit care deeply about abortion, gay marriage and other social issues. But this year, pocketbook issues seem to matter more than pulpit preaching, and at least some are willing to embrace Romney, who many have long looked at skeptically for his reversals on some of their priorities and his Mormon faith.
Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, which many say may have cost him some votes in his 2008 run in certain primary contests, emerged once again as an issue over the weekend at the annual Value Voters Summit. After introducing Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday, mega-church Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Perry supporter, made some controversial remarks to reporters . He said, "Rick Perry is a Christian. He is an evangelical Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ. Mitt Romney is a good, moral person, but he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity. So it's the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian."
The Perry campaign maintains that they did not ask Jeffress to introduce the Texas Governor at Friday’s event but Politico reports that Family Research Council head Tony Perkins says that the Texas Governor’s camp signed off on the choice. Later that night at an Iowa campaign rally, Perry personally addressed the issue, saying he does not believe that Mormonism is a cult.
Addressing the Value Voters Summit on Saturday, Mitt Romney made no mention of Pastor Jeffress’ comments, but he did take aim at a Director of the American Family Association who had denounced Mormonism. Romney said “Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate.The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that unite us - let no agenda narrow our vision or drive us apart."