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On the Campaign Trail, Romney Remembers Sikh Temple Victims

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(WEST DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Gov. Mitt Romney stumped on the campaign trail starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, holding one campaign event and three finance events as well as traveling from New Hampshire to Illinois to Iowa.

During a campaign event in Elk Grove Village, outside of Chicago, Romney lead a moment of silence in honor of the Wisconsin shootings that left six dead.

“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, which is an offshoot of the Hindu religion, have said that they are often confused with Muslims and since 9/11 have found themselves at times to be targets of hate crimes.

Gov. Romney misspoke Tuesday night when referring to the shooting in Wisconsin by saying "sheik" not Sikh (which can be pronounced "seek" or "sick") when referring to the Sikh temple. Incidentially, sheik is an Arab honorific in reference to Muslims, and Sikhs are not Muslims.

Romney said Tuesday evening, “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.

Some of Romney's critics pounced on the accidental use of "sheik," but Rick Gorka, a spokesman for Romney, later clarified, saying the candidate "misspoke," adding that it was the “end of the day.”

"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.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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