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An aide to Newt Gingrich's Republican presidential campaign in Iowa has been dismissed after he called Mormonism a "cult" during a voter focus group.
"Craig Bergman agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012 today [Tuesday]," 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."
Bergman had participated in a focus group of Iowa voters assembled by the Iowa Republican website and McClatchy newspapers.
"A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon," Bergan said, according to the Iowa Republican. "There's a thousand pastors ready to do that."
Two of the Republican presidential candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, are Mormons.
Gingrich, 68, who now leads in polls in three of the four states to vote first in the Republican primary season, has pledged to campaign in a "relentlessly positive" way." His campaign released a letter Tuesday from the candidate to supporters and staff calling on them to "stay positive."