February 2nd, 2008
01:47 PM ET
15 years ago

Romney attends funeral for LDS president

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) – Mitt Romney took a break from campaigning on Saturday to attend the funeral of Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly referred to as the Mormon Church.

The campaign stressed that this was a personal trip, and that Romney would not be actively campaigning while in Utah. He did, however, spend part of the morning doing satellite interviews with TV stations in several Super Tuesday states.

Romney was joined at the funeral by wife Ann and two of their five sons, Josh and Matt. Seated around Romney near Hinckley’s casket were fellow Mormon dignitaries Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, and Republican Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. A message from President and Laura Bush was read, but neither Romney nor the other politicians had a role in the service.

When asked Friday why it was important for him to leave the campaign trail to attend Hinckley’s funeral, Romney responded, “He’s a man I respect a great deal, and I want to pay my respects to his family and acknowledge the importance of his life in my own life.”

Romney speaks fondly of two occasions when he met with Hinckley. The first came while Romney was running the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, when he asked Hinckley for a financial contribution from the Church as well as use of Church property, both of which he got.

He also went to see Hinckley when he was thinking about running for president. “With a twinkle in his eye,” Romney tells the story, “he said, ‘if you decide to run and you win it will be a great experience, if you run and lose it’ll also be a great experience.’”

Though he didn’t campaign in Utah on Friday or Saturday, Romney seems all but guaranteed a victory in the state’s GOP primary on Tuesday.

Throughout Romney’s campaign, his Mormon faith has been a source of many questions. He delivered a major speech in early December in which he sought to dispel some of the mystery surrounding the religion.

- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. carol

    Good for him!

    February 2, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Julie, Binghamton, NY

    Didn't know Reid was a Mormon. Not many Mormons who are Democrats... very cool.

    February 2, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  3. Larry

    I would say Mr. Romney has his priorities in the right order. This speaks volumes for the man.

    February 2, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. Gringo in Peru


    February 2, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. whatsitToyou

    Good for him! Gordon B Hinckley was a great man

    February 2, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. Kurt

    I'm so glad that at least one candidate has not gotten so involved in campaigning to forget how to be a true American and citizen above all else.

    February 2, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Karen

    It was nice to see Gov. Romney able to take some time off and attend President Hinckleys Funeral services.
    In watching all the campaign coverage that has gone on for months, and after seeing Romney last Thursday at one of his stops in Orange County, I am continually amazed at how the candidates and leaders need to have this tremendous drive and energy. At the last Rep. debate, McCain, was able to hold his own, but he looked totally wiped out and then revived some when he and Mitt got into one of their issues.

    We have all seen at time when our candidates look exhausted.... Obama tells of one of his experiences when he felt like he couldn't go on and there was this little old woman who started the now famous chant of "Are you Ready", "Fire it up"..

    Well in tribute to Pres. Hinckley... he was that type of person like the little old lady... he has kept all of us members of his church fired up and ready to go... Over the many years of his extraordinary leadership, he has helps us all to be kinder, to stand a little taller, to set the bar higher for excellence in every aspect of our lives.

    I will miss you, Pres. H.

    February 2, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. Dan


    I am a Mormon and a Democrat. You are correct, there aren't many of us. But not all of us agree with or support Mitt Romney's views or candidacy. Most of the Mormons I know support him simply because they share the same faith. Not all, but most. However, one Romney quote I do agree with is to "not vote for OR against him solely on his faith."

    Obama 08!

    February 2, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. becky

    Romney has been one of my heroes ever since he came in and cleaned out the mess of corruption in the initial stages of the Olympics. He is a man of great vision, hard work and an incredibly positive attitude. I think it takes some guts to take time out 72 hours before Super Tuesday to pay respects to your church leader; most would have just sent condolences and continued pursuing their own political interests. But this is what a man of character does.

    February 3, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  10. dabbadoo

    Even the death and funeral of the most revered church leader of the LDS could not wipe off that fixed "I'm running for president" smile of Mitt Romney. Hard to believe he turned a funeral into a campaign event.

    Enough of the fake exterior. Show who you really are Mitt. (Flip-Flopper).

    February 3, 2008 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  11. CNN.Com reader

    thanks for the great inside reporting – well written and relevant story. CNN continues to impress with your on-the-spot coverage.

    February 3, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. ruth hatton

    Why is it that Bill and Hillary Clinton always makes speechs to the Black churches but never to white ones.

    February 3, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Moe

    You will find no Savings and Loan scandal in Romney's closet.

    February 3, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Marleen

    Attending this funeral just shows that Mitt Romney is an honorable man.
    He has integrity and shows it in the way he lives his life. He's worked hard
    and deserves the votes of the American people – he is by far the best out there!
    Wake up – vote MITT! ROMNEY 08!!!

    February 3, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  15. Big Joe

    dabbadoodoo, Romney didn't turn a funeral into a campaign, the news tried to interview him there but he wouldn't let them.

    February 4, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |