Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lashed out at Mitt Romney’s faith during a conference call with reporters, saying he is “not the face of Mormonism” and suggesting he has tarnished the religion.
Reid, a Democrat and the highest-ranking Mormon in U.S. elected office, also said he agrees with claims that Romney has “sullied” the Latter-day Saints faith.
The Nevada senator made the comments during a call Friday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
"He’s coming to a state where there are a lot of members of the LDS Church," Reid also said ahead of Romney’s arrival Friday. "They understand that he is not the face of Mormonism."
The Romney campaign and Latter-day Saints officials declined Tuesday to comment. However, Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, also a Mormon, called Reid's comments inappropriate.
“What (Harry Reid) said was way, way out of bounds," Chaffetz told FoxNews.com. "Sen. Reid is inappropriately using the church for his own personal political gain. That is a shameful act by any measure.”
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Reid’s comments Friday repeat those of Gregory A. Prince, who wrote in a recent Huffington Post opinion piece: "Judge Mitt Romney as you will, and vote for or against him as you will; but do not judge Mormonism on the basis of the Mitt Romney that was unveiled to the public … . He is not the face of Mormonism."
On Tuesday afternoon, Reid's office attempted to distance the senator from the remarks by saying Prince made them first.
Prince withdrew his support for Romney after a tape surfaced of the Republican presidential nominee saying 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes and are dependent on government handouts.
Reid said he agreed with Prince, co-author of “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism," and said that Prince’s argument is that Romney has “sullied the religion” that the three of them share.