Perry Refuses Romney’s Request to ‘Repudiate’ Pastor’s Anti-Mormon Comments

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign rejected a call Tuesday from Mitt Romney to “repudiate” the remarks of a pastor who described Romney’s Mormon faith as a “cult.”

The former Massachusetts governor made the demand during a news conference Tuesday afternoon in New Hampshire, where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Romney’s presidential candidacy.

Romney, speaking to reporters after the endorsement announcement, said a “religious test” should not be part of the political process. He put the onus on Perry to distance himself from Dallas-area pastor Robert Jeffress, who introduced Perry at a speech to conservatives in Washington Friday.

“Governor Perry selected an individual to introduce him, who then used religion as a basis for which he said he would endorse Governor Perry and as a reason to not support me,” Romney said. “I would call upon Governor Perry to repudiate the sentiment and the remarks made by that pastor.”

But Perry spokesman Mark Miner called the challenge a “deflection,” part of an attempt by Romney to “detract attention” from reports Tuesday that his state’s health care law was used as a model for the federal health care overhaul.

Miner told Fox News that Perry would not repudiate the pastor’s words.

“He is going to continue to focus on the economy, jobs and the issues that matter to the people of this country,” he said.

Jeffress introduced Perry at the Values Voter Summit on Friday as a “true conservative, and a committed follower of Christ."

After his remarks, Jeffress told reporters that Perry's religion is different from Romney's.

"Rick Perry's a Christian. He's an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ," Jeffress said. "Mitt Romney's a good moral person, but he's not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity."

Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose members are commonly called Mormons.

Perry's campaign said at the time that the Texas governor disagrees with Jeffress.

"The governor does not believe Mormonism is a cult," Miner said Friday.