This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
While polls showed voters remained somewhat skeptical of a Mormon presidential candidate, few would outright criticize Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman for their religious affiliation during the 2012 presidential contest.
One major exception took place during a conservative gathering in Washington in October 2011.
Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, introduced Texas Gov. Rick Perry, calling him a "proven leader, a true conservative and a committed follower of Christ." After the speech, Jeffress let loose.
"Rick Perry's a Christian. He's an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ," the pastor told reporters. "Mitt Romney's a good moral person, but he's not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity."
Romney, who had been determined not to engage on the Mormon issue every time it came up, kept silent but Huntsman, who had no love for Romney, decided he couldn't stay mute.
"The fact that, you know, some moron can stand up and make a comment like that first of all, it's outrageous," Huntsman said. "Second of all, the fact that we are spending so much time discussing it makes it even worse."
He added that religion should be off the table, and surrogates needed to know that.
"This kind of talk, I think, has no home in American politics these days," he said. "Anyone who is associated with someone willing to make those comments ought to stand up, distance themselves in very bold language, and that hasn't been done. And Rick ought to stand up and do that."
Perry distanced himself from the remarks. And Huntsman shifted his attention back to jabbing at Romney.