Brownback Apologizes to Romney for Staffer E-Mail Criticizing Mormon Church

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback on Monday telephoned rival Mitt Romney to apologize for a campaign staffer's e-mail criticizing the Mormon church.

The Kansas senator "was very disappointed, clearly sort of personally hurt that this had happened in his team, and he said he is going to be very aggressive to make sure it doesn't happen again," spokesman Brian Hart said. "There's no place for this in his campaign."

The e-mail asked for help in fact-checking negative statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for which Romney is a member, such as "the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith." Hart said the aide who sent it, Emma Nemecek, was reprimanded.

Brownback is a former Methodist who converted to Roman Catholicism.

Earlier in the day, Brownback kicked off his summer road trip - a 1,200-mile, four-day, 27-stop tour through Iowa.

The Kansas senator's tour features visits to city parks and town squares in a bus plastered with his name - an appeal to Iowans who expect a firsthand look at candidates vying for the White House.

Brownback's wife, Mary, and his two youngest children, Mark and Jenna, both 9, are along for the ride.

Brownback said he hopes the road trip through Iowa, which launches the presidential nominating season with caucuses, will attract attention to his message of uniting social and fiscal conservatives.

"A lot of times, you go into towns that frequently don't get visited by candidates, and they're excited to see you, and I think it will be a great public opinion bath for me from Iowans," he said during a conference call with reporters during which he talked about the tour.