SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Just three days before Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney took precious time off the campaign trail to pay his respects at the funeral of Mormon Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Sunday at the age of 97.
Sitting next to his wife Ann in the second row of the 21,000-seat Latter Day Saints Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Romney listened to Church leaders and family members share both warm and lighthearted memories of Hinckley, whose presidency produced a significant expansion of Mormon temples around the world and achieved some success in normalizing the faith to non-believers.
Although he did not campaign this morning in Utah — a Feb. 5th state widely seen as a lock for the former Massachusetts governor, who ran the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics — Romney conducted eight satellite interviews this morning for media stations in Alabama, Minnesota, North Dakota, Tennessee, Georgia and Montana.
Romney has dispatched his family across the country as he tries to pick up enough delegates on Tuesday to remain competitive with John McCain in the race for the GOP nomination. Romney's eldest son Tagg is campaigning in Maine, while his youngest son Craig stumps in Georgia. Middle son Josh returned to Salt Lake City this morning after taking a red-eye flight from Alaska, where he campaigned on behalf of his father.
The governor has a rally scheduled in Minnesota this afternoon—another state in which the campaign believes he can compete for a victory against McCain.