NAACP leaders in Utah demanded a public apology today from Utah Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R) for a statement he made about the Republican presidential race published this weekend in a Utah newspaper.

Bennett said during a meeting with the editorial board of the Ogden Standard-Examiner that Texas Gov. George W. Bush seems already to have won the GOP presidential nomination.

"Unless George W. steps in front of a bus, or some woman comes forward, let's say some black woman comes forward with an illegitimate child that he fathered within the last 18 months, or some other scenario that you could be equally creative in thinking of, George W. Bush will be the nominee," Bennett told the newspaper.

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP's Salt Lake City branch, said it was wrong for Bennett, who is white, to single out women, especially black women. "I will view him much differently than I did before," she said.

Bennett's office in Salt Lake City issued a statement in which the senator did not apologize but indicated he "certainly regrets" making the comment. The statement said those who heard the remark realized it had no racial overtones, adding that the senator will convey those sentiments in person to NAACP representatives.