On Wednesday December 7th, one day before being hired to be the new political director for Newt Gingrich’s Iowa campaign, Craig Bergman, described as a Tea Party supporter, attended a focus group hosted by the TheIowaRepublican.com in conjunction with McClatchy Newspapers. The group of conservative activists included a retiree, a college student, Tea Party members, a GOP county co-chair, and some influential consultants. No one in the group had fully committed to a candidate, and most were undecided. The group offered their assessments on all the major Republican presidential candidates. When the discussion turned to Mitt Romney, Craig Bergman sounded off:
“There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon. 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...There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”
The statement would have been considered primarily analytical in nature......had Bergman not used the word "cult".
The following day, before the storm broke, the Gingrich campaign hired Bergman. But after Bergman's remark became public and criticism surfaced, the Gingrich campaign undoubtedly applied pressure behind the scenes for Bergman to leave the campaign. On December 13th, campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond issued a statement saying that Bergman agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012.
“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”.
Linda Upmeyer, the chairwoman for Gingrich’s Iowa campaign, said she’s never heard Gingrich himself say anything negative about Mormonism. “I’ve never had any discussion that resembled that with Speaker Gingrich,” Upmeyer said. “I have no doubt there are people that reject Mormonism but I’ve never engaged in a conversation regarding that, ever.” I also cannot recall any anti-Mormon statements ever made by Gingrich, either, so this should not be laid at his doorstep. The Gingrich campaign moved expeditiously to resolve the problem.
There are many other reasons to be critical of Newt Gingrich, in particular his support for American military interventionism, his cheerleading for the rich, and his contempt for the working class. But it's clear that Newt Gingrich does not tolerate the public expression of anti-religious bigotry. This should now be considered a dead issue. But one person posting a comment to TheIowaRepublican is not inclined to forgive:
Bren4824 December 13th 10:00 A.M:
So, let me point out the hypocrisy and lack of credibility of the "Christian" evangelicals..........
---When Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, each year he donated his entire salary to charity. In other words, he worked for NOTHING.
---He has been married to his wife for 40 years
---He was never accused/fined for ethics violations.
---His religion never caused a problem when he was Governor of Massachusetts.
Yet, he is not the right "kind" of Christian for them.
They would rather support the candidate that committed adultery numerous times, who was found guilty/fined for ethics violations, and who was padding his pockets with millions paid to him by lobbyists.