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December 14th, 2011

Focus Group Fallout

A participant in a focus group organized by and McClatchy newspapers lost his job because of comments he made during the event last week. Shortly after participating in the focus group, Craig Bergman was hired as the Iowa political director for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign.

The controversial comment came in regards to Mitt Romney’s prospects, if he captured the GOP nomination. “There is a national pastor who is very much on the anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon,” Bergman said. “A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon…There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that.”

The “cult of Mormon” comment is what landed Bergman in trouble. Newt Gingrich’s campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond released a statement Tuesday evening announcing Bergman was no longer with the campaign.

“Craig Bergman agreed to step away from his role with Newt 2012 today. He made a comment to a focus group prior to becoming an employee that is inconsistent with Newt 2012’s pledge to run a positive and solutions orientated campaign.”

As co-moderator of the focus group, believes Bergman was not making a statement that reflected his own views of the Mormon religion, but was relaying what he heard from the “national pastor” referenced in his comment.

During the focus group discussion, Bergman said that he was leaning strongly toward backing Gingrich, as was pointed out in the fourth paragraph of our article published on Tuesday. Prior to the focus group, all of the participants said they were undecided or not fully committed to a candidate. Bergman also made comments during the discussion that were critical of Gingrich, which were also quoted in’s article.

The focus group was not intended to be a poll reflective of all Iowa caucus goers. The goal was to garner a wide range of opinions from a diverse collection of Iowa Republicans. The group included a college student, a retiree, a prominent black conservative, a former employee of the Republican Party of Iowa and Iowans for Tax Relief, a GOP county co-chair and two Tea Party activists.

Photo by Dave Davidson,

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