During an evening fundraising event in West Des Moines Tuesday, Romney was offering condolences to the victims of the weekend massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin when he talked about "sheik temple" and the "sheik people," The Washington Post reported.
Romney correctly spoke of the Sikh religion at an earlier campaign stop in Illinois, when he observed a moment of silence, the Post said.
Sikh, pronounced similar to "sick," is a religion with roots in South Asia while sheik, pronounced similar to "sheek" or "shake," is an honorific term in Arabia.
Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said the candidate "mispronounced similar sounding words," pointing out that Romney was obviously referring to the Wisconsin shooting.
Gorka also said the mispronunciation came at the end of a long day of campaigning. Romney traveled to three states, participated in three events and taped an interview before arriving at West Des Moines.