Craig Bergman, Newt Gingrich's political director in Iowa who joined the campaign less than a week ago, resigned Tuesday after calling Mormonism a "cult" in TheIowaRepublican.com.
Bergman participated in a focus group last Wednesday -- a day before he was hired by the Gingrich team -- for TheIowaRepublican.com, in conjunction with McClatchy newspapers. "There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon," he said. "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."
Bergman identified himself in the focus group as an undecided voter, according to the Des Moines Register.
The Gingrich campaign said in a statement that Bergman had "agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012." Spokesman R.C. Hammond added that his comment was "inconsistent with Newt 2012's pledge to run a positive and solutions oriented campaign."
Dallas-based pastor Rev. Robert Jeffress, who endorsed and introduced Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry at a Washington summit last October, drew controversy for calling Mormonism "a cult." Mitt Romney called on Perry to repudiate the comments. Perry refused to disavow him but said he did not agree with the comments.
A Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday showed Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) virtually tied in Iowa at 22 and 21 percent, respectively, with Romney trailing at 16 percent ahead of the Jan. 3 caucuses.