Panama City, Fla. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he accepted an apology Monday from GOP rival Sam Brownback for an e-mail disparaging his Mormon religion that a campaign aide sent to Iowa GOP leaders.
Brownback, a Kansas senator, made a telephone call to the former Massachusetts governor, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"He said that religious attacks don't have any place in politics and, of course, we agree on that," Romney said. "I told him that was not a big matter to me. If I can't stand the heat I shouldn't be in the kitchen."
The Brownback campaign earlier disclosed that an Iowa field director, Emma Nemecek, had been reprimanded for violating campaign policy. She had forwarded an interest group's June 6 e-mail that said in part "the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith."
Brownback, a former Methodist minister who converted to Roman Catholicism, "was very disappointed, clearly sort of personally hurt that this had happened in his team," said Brownback spokesman Brian Hart.
"I appreciated his generosity in making the call," Romney said. "Now and then campaign workers make mistakes. It's a good thing when people who are friends like he and I are can reach out and point out that was unintended."
Unintended or not, the matter of Romney's faith keeps surfacing. He said he is "thinking about various things" that might put the issue to rest but did not elaborate.
Romney, though, said it has not been an issue for people who have come to know him in the early caucus and primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where he has focused his campaign.
"They don't seem to care much about where I go to church," Romney said. "They care about what values I have, and as they get to see my family and my wife they realize my values are as American as you'll find anywhere in this country."