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Romney, Christie repeat calls for Perry to repudiate pastor

Mitt Romney has retaken the top position in the 2012 GOP presidential campaign after falling behind Gov. Rick Perry. Jan Crawford reports on how the former governor now has the support of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Chris Christie backs Mitt Romney for president
Chris Christie, left, and Mitt Romney, right.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday reiterated his call for Texas Governor Rick Perry to condemn a Texas pastor and supporter who called Mormonism a "cult."

Romney, in a joint appearance on NBC's "Today" show with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie - who announced his endorsement of Romney on Tuesday afternoon - argued that Perry would be "wise to repudiate the words of the pastor in every way he possibly can."

"I've heard worse in my life," he added. "I don't get real nervous about what people say. And I think this pastor could say something like that in his church, but in a political setting I think that's a mistake and the founders felt that way when they crafted the Constitution and said there would not be a religious test."

Christie added that religion "has no business in deciding who would be the President of the United States of America."

"The folks should be judged on the basis of their record, integrity... not what religion they practice," he continued. "I don't think this has any business in political life for our country, and I think it's unsettling that anyone would associate themselves with those kinds of comments."

The pastor, Robert Jeffress, made the comments while endorsing Perry at the at the Values Voter Summit last Friday. Perry has rejected the characterization of Mormonism, but has refused to disavow the pastor.

"Governor Perry is going to focus his campaign on improving the economy and creating jobs, issues that matter to Americans," spokesman Mark Miner said in a statement to CBS News. "Mitt Romney's comments are a distraction from the fact that Romneycare served as a blueprint for Obamacare."

Romney and Christie also shrugged off multiple questions about whether or not Christie would be on the former Massachusetts governor's short list for vice president if he were to win the nomination.

"The truth is, Governor Christie is one of the leading figures in the Republican party and of course anyone who becomes our nominee is going to look at people like Governor Christie and say, well, that would be a terrific person to have on the ticket," Romney said. "He'd be on anyone's short list."

"He's an extraordinary person and I'm delighted to have him on my team," he added.

Christie emphasized that he hadn't been promised the vice president slot in the event of a Romney nomination, and said he had endorsed the candidate because "he's the best person for the job, simply on the merits."

"Governor Romney gives us the best chance of winning back the White House in November 2012 and I want to do everything I can to help him," Christie said.

Much has been made of Christie's recently-touted endorsement of Romney, and many believe it could help the former governor both lock up support from the Republican establishment and make inroads with the conservative base.

Moreover, the governor's support is a clear sign of growing momentum for Romney toward the nomination.

"He's going to win," Christie said.

Otherwise, he added, "I wouldn't be with him."