Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took aim at Mitt Romney’s faith on Tuesday, telling reporters that he agreed with a fellow Mormon’s charge that the Republican presidential candidate has “sullied” the LDS faith.
Reid, the Nevada Democrat and the nation’s highest elected Mormon, blasted Romney in a conference call for reporters over a litany of things the Republican nominee has said recently. And Reid added that Latter-day Saints aren’t buying Romney’s rhetoric.
“He’s coming to a state where there are a lot of members of the LDS Church,” Reid said during a conference call with reporters in advance of Romney’s visit to Nevada on 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.”
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.”
Reid said he agreed with Prince, co-author of “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism,” and with Prince’s argument is that Romney has “sullied the religion” that the three of them share.
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.
In contrast, other prominent Mormons have thanked Romney for presenting a positive image of the church.
J.W. Marriott, head of the Marriott hotel chain and a family friend of the candidate, told Romney’s church congregation in Wolfeboro, N.H., that Romney’s presidential run has been good for the Utah-based faith.
“There has never been as much positive attention to the church, thanks to the wonderful campaign of Mitt Romney and his family,” Marriott said, according to news reports.
Prince, who said he backed Romney in his Massachusetts gubernatorial bid and in his 2008 run for president, railed against the GOP nominee after a secretly recorded video emerged in which the candidate said 47 percent of Americans play the victim card and believe they are entitled to government handouts.