Mitt Romney refused to directly repudiate Donald Trump’s claims that President Obama was born in Kenya just hours before he is scheduled to appear with the reality T.V. star for a fund raiser in Las Vegas, NV. “A candidate can’t be responsible for everything that their supporters say,” Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom told CNN on Friday, before insisting that the former Massachusetts governor “accepts the fact that [Obama] was born in Hawaii.”
But Romney has previously demanded that his political opponents publicly rebuke supporters who make false accusations about Mormonism. In October, Romney aggressively confronted evangelical pastor and Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress, who claimed that Romney is not Christian and is part of a Mormon cult. Romney called on Perry to denounce Jeffress:
“Gov. Perry selected an individual to introduce him who then used religion as a basis for which he said he would endorse Gov. Perry and a reason to not support me. Gov. Perry then said that introduction just hit it out of the park,” Romney said.
“I just don’t believe that that kind of divisiveness based upon religion has a place in this country. I believe in the spirit of the founders, when they suggested in crafting this country that we would be a nation that tolerated other people, different faiths — that we’d be a place of religious diversity,” Romney continued.
He concluded, “I would call upon Gov. Perry to repudiate the sentiment and the remarks made by that pastor.”
Ironically, Perry spokesman Mark Miner responded to Romney’s outrage with the same sentiment that Romney is now expressing towards those who have called on him to directly repudiate Trump. “The governor does not agree with every single issue of people that endorsed him or people that he meets,” Miner said. “This political rhetoric from Gov. Romney isn’t going to create one new job or help the economy. He’s playing a game of deflection and the people of this country know this.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) — a Romney surrogate and potential Vice Presidential nominee — also condemned Perry, saying, that any candidate that would associate with such comments “is beneath the office of president of the United States.”