GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who spent just over 24 hours in Utah on a fund-raising stop, said Saturday he's not surprised that "troubling" comments have been made by other campaigns about his Mormon beliefs.

"Clearly, any derogatory comments about anyone's faith, those comments are troubling, and the fact that they keep on coming up is even more troubling," Romney told reporters before attending the first of three fund-raising events scheduled throughout the state.

But the former leader of Salt Lake City's 2002 Winter Olympics also said he expected his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to attract negative comments during the race for the White House.

"When you get in the kitchen, you expect it to be warm," said Romney, who served a term as governor of his longtime home state, Massachusetts, following the Olympics. "And I'm not surprised."

He did, however, suggest that one of the campaigns where such comments have surfaced hasn't made enough of an effort to apologize — that of Sen. John McCain, one of the top three GOP contenders.

McCain trails Romney among Utah voters but has the backing of several prominent politicians in the state, including Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who is scheduled to campaign for McCain on Monday in Reno and Las Vegas.

Romney said he has not heard personally from McCain about the latest incident, involving an Iowa campaign chairman for McCain who, according to the Boston Globe, told a GOP gathering in April about allegations the LDS Church helped fund a terrorist organization and compared the church's treatment of women to the Taliban's.

Asked if the senator from Arizona should apologize to him, Romney said, "Absolutely, he can do whatever he feels is the right thing. There's no need for me to suggest how people respond to things that go on in their campaigns."

A spokeswoman for McCain, Brooke Buchanan, said in an e-mail Saturday that "the campaign has apologized." She also referred to statements McCain made after an earlier incident involving critical comments linked to his campaign about Mormons.

McCain said during his fund-raising efforts in Utah in March that he "would immediately condemn" anyone associated with his campaign engaging in what he called "disgraceful and dishonorable" behavior.

Romney said two other Republicans in the race, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, did apologize to him personally after their staffers circulated what was seen as negative information about the LDS Church.

Brownback's campaign reprimanded a staffer for sending an e-mail suggesting "the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith," according to ABC News. And Giuliani's campaign said an e-mail from a staffer forwarding a story about Romney possibly fulfilling a Mormon legend was "a regrettable mistake."

Both Brownback and Giuliani promised "that's never going to happen again," Romney said. "They've each spoken to me personally, and I don't have any issue with that at all. I've told them that that's going to happen from time to time and you expect that in a campaign."

Romney also denounced filmmaker Michael Moore, whose latest movie, "Sicko," is about the nation's troubled health-care system, for criticizing Massachusetts' effort to mandate health insurance.

"He doesn't like it. That's one of the best forms of flattery I can imagine," Romney said.

The purpose of Romney's trip to Utah was, of course, to raise money. The state was behind only California in providing financial support to Romney's campaign in first-quarter fund-raising reports and is expected to be a big backer when the second quarter ends June 30.

"I've got a lot of friends here in Utah, and it will be one of the leading states" again, Romney said. During the first three months of 2007, his campaign reported raising some $23 million, including nearly $2.8 million from Utahns.

The three events in Utah on Saturday could bring in well over $500,000. Some 250 supporters were to have paid $500 each to attend a morning reception at EnergySolutions Arena.

Another 150 were anticipated at a fund-raiser in Logan at the home of Cache Valley Electric CEO Jim Laub, paying up to the federal contribution limit of $2,300 each. And 100 or so of his biggest Utah backers were invited to Romney's vacation home in Deer Valley on Saturday night.

Romney said candidates have to spend too much time raising money.

"It's really too bad that the fund-raising process in this country has taken up such a huge portion of the political agenda," he said.

Campaign finance reform co-sponsored by McCain, Romney said, has made the process worse. Instead of limiting the size of campaign contributions, Romney said supporters should be able to give whatever amount they wish and have it immediately reported on the Web.

Utah was just one of more than a half-dozen Western states that Romney swept through this past week. His traveling press secretary, Eric Fehrnstrom, said there have been 40 fund-raising events for Romney this month alone.

On Monday, Romney will be back in Boston for a major fund-raiser involving hundreds of well-connected supporters calling their contacts for contributions. As many as 75 Utahns will participate, said Spencer Zwick, Romney's national finance director.

Zwick, though, said Romney does not expect to match his first-quarter contributions, which set a new record for GOP candidates. The $23 million reported to the Federal Elections Commission in April included a $2.35 million loan from Romney.

But Zwick said there will be a larger number of contributors on the latest filing, set to be released by the government July 15. Utahns participated in a drive by the Romney campaign last month to sign up 24,000 new supporters — including donors — in 24 hours.


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