Mitt Romney mistakenly said “sheik” instead of “Sikh” while speaking at a campaign event Tuesday night in West Des Moines, Iowa.
The verbal misstep came as Romney offered his condolences to those affected by the massacre that occurred at a Wisconsin Sikh temple over the weekend.
“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,” he said, according to pool reports. “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.”
Sheik is the name for an elder in Arabic.
Reporters questioned Romney spokesman Rick Gorka about the mistake after the event. He said Romney simply “misspoke.”
“It was the end of the day,” Gorka said. “He mispronounced similar sounding words. He was clearly referring to the tragedy in Wisconsin. You clearly heard him talk about it earlier today in Chicago.”
Romney continues to campaign in Iowa on Wednesday with an event in neighboring Des Moines.