— Republican Mike Huckabee Wednesday personally apologized to rival
Mitt Romney for comments he made in an upcoming New York Times Magazine
article that appear to disparage the Mormon faith.
GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee's campaign says his comments on Mormons were taken out of context.The former Arkansas governor said he apologized to Romney after the GOP debate in Johnston, Iowa.
\"I said, I would never try, ever to try to somehow pick out some point
of your faith and make it an issue, and I wouldn't,\" Huckabee said.
\"I've stayed away from talking about Mitt Romney's faith,\" Huckabee
said. \"I told him face-to-face, I said I don't think your being a
Mormon ought to make you more or less qualified for being a president.\"
In the article, a preview of which is posted on the New York Times Web
site, the former Arkansas governor is quoted as asking, \"Don't Mormons
believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?\"
The remark came after New York Times reporter Zev Chafets asked
Huckabee whether he thought Mormonism was a religion or a cult.
Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, said he thought it was the former
but conceded he doesn't \"know much about it.\" The article is to appear
in Sunday's paper.
Asked how Romney responded to the apology, Huckabee said the Massachusetts Republican was \"gracious.\"
\"The governor accepted the apology,\" Romney spokesman Kevin Madden
said. \"He continues to believe that this campaign should not be about
questioning a candidate's faith. While it is fair to criticize an
opponent's record or policy positions, it is out of bounds for one
candidate to question another's personal faith.\"
Speaking with CNN Wednesday, Huckabee expressed disbelief that the comment has caused an uproar.
\"We were having a conversation over several hours, the conversation was
about religion and he was trying to press me on my thoughts of Mitt
Romney's religion, and I said 'I don't want to go there.'\" Huckabee
\"I really didn't know. Well, he was telling me things
about the Mormon faith, because he frankly is well-schooled on
comparative religions. As a part of that conversation, I asked the
question, because I had heard that, and I asked it, not to create
something — I never thought it would make the story.\"
who has surged into first place in Iowa, also reiterated that he
doesn't think a candidate's religion should be an issue in the campaign.
\"I don't think his particular religion is a factor in whether or not
people should vote him or against him,\" he said. \"I'd like to think
that my being a Baptist isn't a factor in people voting for or against
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Huckabee rival for
the 2008 GOP nomination, is a member of the Mormon church, officially
known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Speaking Wednesday on NBC's \"Today\" show, Romney said, \"I think attacking someone's religion is really going too far. It's not the American way.\"
Huckabee's comment is consistent with those that are often used to
vilify the Mormon church, a spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints told The Associated Press.
In a statement
sent to CNN, church spokesman Michael Purdy said, \"Like other
Christians, we believe Jesus is the divine son of God. Satan is a
\"As the apostle Paul wrote, God is the Father of all,\" Purdy added.
\"That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit
children. Christ, however, was the only begotten in the flesh and we
worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind.\"
Huckabee's campaign says the article takes the candidate's comments out
of context. Huckabee was not bashing the religion but instead was
\"illustrating his unwillingness to answer questions about Mormonism and to avoid addressing theological questions during this campaign,\" the campaign said in a statement released Tuesday night.
has said consistently that he believes this campaign should center on a
discussion of the important issues confronting our nation, and not
focus on questions of religious belief,\" Charmaine Yoest, a senior
adviser to the campaign, said in a statement. \"He wants to assure
persons of all faith traditions of his firm commitment to religious
tolerance and freedom of worship.\"
Huckabee, locked in a battle
with Romney for support among the evangelical community, also took heat
this month for declining to say whether he thinks Mormonism is a cult.
\"I'm just not going to go off into evaluating other people's doctrines
and faiths. I think that is absolutely not a role for a president,\" he
Huckabee told reporters last week
he didn't watch Romney's highly anticipated speech on his faith. But he
argued that he has been confronted with questions about his faith more
than Romney has and that he also would make a \"God speech\" if given the
\"I get all of the God questions at the debates, so you
know when people say, 'Oh, he had to make a speech,' I'm thinking, 'Hey
you know what? If you'll give me national television time, I'll make
you a God speech, and I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll throw in an
offering and an altar call to throw in with it.' \" CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.