- Photo: The Christian Post via CNN
Jon Huntsman, who appeared on CNN's "The Situation Room" Monday night, says Rick Perry should "stand up" and clearly distance himself from the controversial comments made by a Baptist minister who described Mormonism as a cult, adding that he found it outrageous that "some moron can stand up and make a comment like that."
Huntsman, who is also a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, criticized his opponent, Gov. Perry of Texas, for not making it clear enough that he does not endorse last week's controversial comments made by the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas.
Jeffress said Friday that true Christians should not vote for Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and a Republican candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. He also called Mormonism a cult, which evoked a storm of public responses.
Huntsman, like Romney, is a Mormon.
"The fact that some moron can stand up and make a comment like that – first of all, it's outrageous. Second of all, the fact that we are spending so much time discussing it is making it even worse," the former Utah governor said on the show, hosted by Wolf Blitzer.
He suggested that Perry should make "an immediate and decisive break, period."
Huntsman also called on candidates to "leave religion off the table" and focus on the "big issues" like foreign policy and unemployment.
"This kind of talk, I think has no home in American politics," he added. "Anyone who is associated with someone willing to make those comments ought to stand up and distance themselves in very bold language, and that hasn't been done. And Rick ought to stand up and do that."
Since Jeffress uttered his comment Friday, the Dallas megachurch pastor has been repeating it in multiple media interviews.
Perry is a part of the conflict, because Jeffress made the controversial statement right after endorsing the Texas governor as his preferred presidential candidate Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
Perry's campaign clarified afterward that it was not their decision to chose Jeffress to make the introduction, but that he was assigned by the summit organizer, the Family Research Council.
"Mormonism has always been treated as a cult," the Baptist minister said at the time, adding that he considers Romney to be a moral and good person, but that he will vote for Perry as a Republican nominee because Perry is a "true Christian."
"A Christian is somebody who embraces the beliefs of historical Christianity," Jeffress told CP Friday.
The pastor also specified that, should it come to a choice between Romney and President Barack Obama in the national elections, he will vote for Romney, as he considers the incumbent "the most pro-abortion, most pro-homosexuality [president] in history."