Newt Fires Staffer Who Called Mormonism a 'Cult'

On the same day Newt Gingrich issued a memo to staffers and supporters that he would run a positive campaign, the presidential candidate fired his Iowa political director after learning the new hire had called Mormonism a "cult."

"Craig Bergman agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012 today," said spokesman R.C. Hammond in a statement. "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."

Upon further clarification with the Gingrich campaign, it appears that between the process of beginning to hire Bergman "over a week ago" and the time the focus group comments were posted online Tuesday, Bergman participated in a focus group with the TheIowanRepublican.com, which wanted to gather opinions from conservative activists about the GOP field. A prerequisite for participants was that they were "undecided."

To the focus group, Craig Bergman said, "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."

Bergman also had an unflattering comment for the GOP candidate who hired him, calling Gingrich "the smartest unwise man in America. Because unwise means making bad choices." TheIowanRepublican.com reports that, at the time of the focus group, Bergman was "leaning strongly toward backing Gingrich" but felt like "incidents like appearing in a global warming ad with Nancy Pelosi give some conservatives reservations about supporting him."