Mitt Romney opened a sunrise press conference in West Palm Beach by addressing the death of Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Mormon church.
Hinckley, 97, died last night.
"We will miss his leadership," said Romney, who said Hinckley's ability to connect wirh world leaders and members of the media "distinguished him as one the great leaders of our faith."
Much has been made of Mitt Romney's Mormon faith - with political observers noting the Cattch-22 of a Republican candidate's need to reach out to a religious base, such as Evangelical Christians, many of whom view Mormonism with skepticism.
Romney supporters have likened the religion issue as similar to questions about John F. Kennedy's Catholicism.
Romney, who spoke at a Texaco gas station to highlight his opposition to John McCain's proposed legislation intended to combat global warming, said he learned of Hinckley's death this morning and hoped to attend his funeral.
He said he first met the Mormon leader while planning the Olympics in Salt Lake City, noting Hinckley's generosity and attention to detail when asked to give church resources such as land and money to help the struggling games.