DALLAS - Seeking to steady his presidential campaign Friday, Governor Rick Perry turned to a group of voters where he enjoys strong support - Christian conservatives.

He spoke to the Values Voter Summit in Washington but his remarks became overshadowed by the man who introduced him, Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas.

Jeffress has previously said he believes Mormonism is a cult. Perry rival, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, is a Mormon.

The Perry campaign hoped to re-energize this critical part of his voter base, since some don't like his support for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Perry assured them he's tough on immigration, while the federal government is not.

I know the answers to those failures is not to grant amnesty to those who broke the laws to come into this country, Perry said.

But faith and Mormonism came into the picture when Jeffress introduced Perry.

Jeffress told reporters as an evangelical Christian, he believes Mormonism is a cult and implied Romney should not be president in Perry's introduction, Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person, or do we want a candidate who is a born again follower of the lord Jesus Christ?

The Perry campaign quickly distanced the governor from Jeffress, saying Perry doesn't believe Mormonism is a cult and that they didn't ask Jeffress to introduce Perry, the event did.

But Jeffress remarks should be no surprise to the Perry campaign.

Here's what he told Fox News on June 3, 2011: I made headlines in 2008 by saying that Mitt Romney was not a Christian. Mormons are not Christians, according to evangelical Christians.

Since 2007, Romney has tried to reassure Christian conservatives about his faith.

It's been less an issue this campaign, but it's not a total surprise that it has come up again. And it may not be the last time.


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