Reporting Jon Keller
BOSTON (CBS) – It has happened again, a political adversary of former Gov. Mitt Romney injecting anti-Mormon bigotry into the campaign discourse, and you don’t have to be a Romney fan to wonder how much lower politics can go.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
The latest incident involves a Tea Party activist in Iowa who was hired recently by Newt Gingrich to be political director of his campaign in that state.
Before he was hired, Craig Bergman was part of a focus group discussing the campaign, where he informed everyone that Romney’s Mormon faith was going to hurt him in Iowa.
“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,” he said, according to an Iowa newspaper.
“There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”
To their credit, the Gingrich campaign immediately demanded Bergman’s resignation and disavowed his comments, which is more than Texas Gov. Rick Perry did when a pastor introducing him at a campaign event also referred to Mormonism as a “cult.”
But this is just the latest incident in a recurring pattern whenever Romney appears on a ballot.
Mike Huckabee pulled the same stunt four years ago this week, wondering out loud to a reporter if “Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”
No, they don’t.
And around here, some of you may recall that then-Congressman Joe Kennedy repeated falsehoods about the Mormon Church during his uncle Ted’s senate race against Romney, a move that the campaign disowned but which served its purpose by damaging the little-known challenger.
That sleazy little trick wasn’t repeated when Romney ran for governor in 2002, in part because those who might have used it recognized that Massachusetts voters were more familiar with Romney and tolerant of Mormonism, and also because of the significant presence of Mormons here and the understanding of what outstanding neighbors they are.
But all these years later, vile religious slander is still being used as a political tactic.
And even if you can’t stand Mitt Romney, anyone with any decency ought to be revolted by it.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.