Mitt Romney drew religion back into the presidential campaign when he personally called on Rick Perry to repudiate controversial remarks made about Mormonism by a pastor with ties to Perry.
“I don’t believe that divisiveness based on religion belongs in this country,” Romney said at a press conference in New Hampshire in reference to comments made at a conservative conference in Washington last week by Pastor Robert Jeffress.
“I’d call on Governor Perry to repudiate that,” said Romney.
This is a big deal.
Romney is directly taking on the religion issue and the Perry campaign is not backing down.
“We have addressed that issue and don’t expect any additional comments on that,” Perry communications director Ray Sullivan tells ABC News. “It is a distraction and unproductive to the debate.”
Romney is not just hitting Perry for the remarks Pastor Jeffress made after introducing Perry (when he called Mormonism a cult). He is hitting Perry for what Jeffress said when he introduced Perry as “a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.”
Perry responded to that introduction by saying Jeffress “hit it out of the park.”
The Perry campaign still sees nothing wrong with Pastor Jeffress introduction.
“The pastor was referring to the governor and made no reference to Romney in his introductory remarks,” Sullivan told ABC News.
As for Jeffress later comments on Mormonism being a cult, Perry has already repudiated that.
“He made it clear he does not agree with the characterization of the Mormon church,” Sullivan said.