On four separate instances in 2011, Donald Trump took swipes at former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s Mormon faith during a spat between the two, according to a CNN review of Trump’s public statements at the time.
Trump has struggled with Mormon voters this year, and a new “Deseret News” poll showed Trump and Hillary Clinton tied in the state at 26% with independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin trailing closely.
In 2011, when Huntsman was a Republican candidate for president, Trump insisted that Huntsman requested a meeting with him but that he declined the request. Huntsman said he never asked to meet Trump, but it was actually Trump who asked him to meet with him at Trump Tower.
Huntsman had declined to participate in a planned presidential debate hosted by Donald Trump that year. The debate was eventually cancelled.
Trump suggested repeatedly Huntsman could be lying, and took a shot at his faith.
“And the other thing is Governor Huntsman called my office asking for a meeting and I didn’t call him back, which I could have and should have,” Trump said to Fox News in early December 2011. “But he called my office asking for a meeting, and I’m sure, being a Mormon, he will absolutely confirm that. So that’s one of those things.”
The website CNS News also reported at the time Trump made similar comments in a conference call with reporters.
“But, he wanted to, I just didn’t do it. So, you know, I’m sure that he will admit that,” Trump said. “Being a Mormon, I know he doesn’t lie.”
And speaking on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown several days later, Trump took aim at Huntsman’s faith again.
“Mr. Huntsman call my office a number of times trying to set up a meeting, I didn’t have a meeting with him,” Trump said. “And then he went on the debate and said, `I didn’t meet with Mr. Trump like everybody else in the room.’ So, you know, I’m sure he’ll tell the truth about that, because he’s a Mormon.”
That night, Huntsman responded to Trump telling Fox News of Trump, “I’m not going to kiss his ring, and I’m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy.”
On Hannity, Trump reiterated his comments, “So, he’s a Mormon, so I’m sure he wouldn’t lie about it.”
A spokesperson for Trump’s campaign did not return a request for comment.
Huntsman declined to relitigate his exchanges with Trump when asked for comment from CNN.
“Nothing here I wish to elaborate on,” the former Utah governor said in an email.
Huntsman called on Trump to drop out of the race after a 2005 video tape surfaced that showed Trump making lewd comments.
The independent conservative candidate McMullin, a Mormon, took aim at Trump over his comments towards Huntsman.
“Donald Trump has a long and shameful pattern of attacking religious and ethnic minorities. It comes as no surprise he’d have a record of bigoted remarks about LDS members like Jon Huntsman,” he told CNN earlier this week.