WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Mitt Romney misspoke tonight when referring to the shooting in Wisconsin that took place at a Sikh temple, mistakenly using an Arab honorific in reference to the religious group.
Instead of saying that the shooting occurred at a Sikh temple, Romney referred to it as a sheik temple. Sheik is a Muslim term for the leader of a village or tribe. Sikhs are not Muslims.
“We obviously have challenges around the country. I was in Chicago earlier today. We had a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives at that sheik temple,” said Romney, speaking to a group of donors gathered at a fundraiser at a West Des Moines country club.
“I noted that it was a tragedy for many, many reasons. Among them are the fact that people, the sheik people are among the most peaceable and loving individuals you can imagine, as is their faith. And of course, the person who carried out this heinous act was a person motivated by racial hatred and religious intolerance. It’s really, really a tragedy,” he said.
Rick Gorka, a spokesman for Romney, later clarified that the candidate “misspoke” adding that it was the “end of the day.”
Romney has been on the campaign trail since 7 a.m. this morning, holding one campaign event and three finance events as well as traveling from New Hampshire to Illinois to Iowa.
“He mispronounced similar sounding words,” said Gorka. “He was clearly referring to the tragedy in Wisconsin, you heard him talk about it earlier today in Chicago.”
Romney did lead a moment of silence in honor of the Wisconsin shootings that left six dead during a campaign event in Elk Grove Village outside of Chicago.
“Now, I know we’ve come today to talk about politics, but I’d like to have a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives in Wisconsin at that tragic, tragic shooting at the Sikh Temple,” Romney said. “The tragedy is even more profound because the Sikh religion and the Sikh people are such peaceable, loving individuals and I think it’s also more tragic because the shooter was apparently someone who was motivated by hate; hate based on race, hate based on religion.”
Members of the Sikh temple have said that they are often confused with Muslims and since 9/11 have found themselves at times to be targets of hate crimes. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that originated in northern India about 500 years ago.