At 12 minutes 30 seconds into this video at the Western GOP Debate, Las Vegas, NV, started a question
that Newt Gingrich gave the most important and best answer in the whole debate.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR AND DEBATE MODERATOR: And welcome back to the CNN GOP debate live from the Venetian in Las Vegas.
Let's continue. We've got an e-mail question that was left at cnnpolitics.com.
This is from a Mike Richards who says:
- "With the controversy surrounding Robert Jeffress, is it acceptable to let the issue of a candidate's faith shape the debate?"
Senator Santorum, this is in reference to a Baptist pastor who, at the Values Voter Summit, after introducing Governor Rick Perry, said of --
said that "Mitt Romney is not a Christian," and that "Mormonism is a cult."
Those were his words.
COOPER: Should voters pay attention to a candidate's religion?
SANTORUM: I think they should pay attention to the candidate's values, what the candidate stands for.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SANTORUM: That's what is at play. And the person's faith --
- and you look at that faith and what the faith teaches with respect to morals and values that are reflected in that person's belief structure.
I -- I'm a Catholic. Catholic has social teachings.
Catholic has teachings as to what's right and what's wrong.
And those are legitimate things for voters to look at,
to say if you're a faithful Catholic, which I try to be --
- fall short all the time, but I try to be
with respect to how you live your life and -- and how you would govern this country.
With respect to what is the road to salvation, that's a whole different story.
That's not applicable to what -- what the role is of being the president or a senator or any other job.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you agree with that? GINGRICH: Well, I think if the question is,
- does faith matter? Absolutely.
- we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights?
- religion, morality and knowledge being important, education matters.
Now, I happen to think that none of us should rush in judgment of others in the way in which they approach God.
And I think that all of us up here I believe would agree.
But I think all of us would also agree that
- there's a very central part of your faith in how you approach public life.
- that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments,
- how can you have judgment if you have no faith?
And how can I trust you with power if you don't pray?
Who you pray to, how you pray, how you come close to God is between you and God.
But the notion that you're endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary on what we mean by America.