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MEREDITH, N.H. (AP) -- John McCain's 95-year-old mother, in a swipe at her son's rival Mitt Romney, said Friday that Mormons were to blame for the scandal that rocked the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
During an appearance on MSNBC, Roberta McCain laid out why her son, John, deserves to win the Republican presidential nomination. But in evaluating McCain's primary rivals, she criticized Romney's Mormon faith and his time in Salt Lake City.
"As far as the Salt Lake City thing, he's a Mormon and the Mormons of Salt Lake City had caused that scandal. And to clean that up, again, it's not a subject," Roberta McCain said.
John McCain quickly stepped in: "The views of my mother's are not necessarily the views of mine."
"Well, that's my view and you asked me," Roberta answered.
The Salt Lake Organizing Committee had enticed International Olympics officials with lavish gifts and accusations of bribery mired the Games in scandal while resignations sullied the region's reputation.
Utah officials tapped Romney to lead the effort and, as president and CEO of the organizing committee, he pared the budget, boosted revenues and worked to repair the committee's reputation.
A Romney campaign spokesman said the McCains made a mistake.
"I would disagree with any candidate or any campaign surrogate that chooses to disparage someone based on the faith that they hold, and instead implore other candidates and their campaigns to make a case to voters based on the important issues facing the nation," said Kevin Madden.
Roberta McCain immediately apologized to her son.
"I didn't mean to say it," she said as they stepped away from the cameras.
McCain told The Associated Press after the interview that his mother misspoke.
"Mormons are great people and the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon should play no role whatsoever in people's decision," McCain said.
"What she meant was the Olympics were screwed up by the people in Salt Lake when Romney came in and fixed the problems there. But I know my 95-year-old mother is certainly in favor of Mormons."
------ Compiled by Philip Elliott
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)