August 1st, 2011
07:34 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the heat of the political debate over the debt ceiling last week, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) may have crossed the line when he said that being associated with President Obama would be similar to touching a “tar baby”.
“Even if some people say, well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that, they will hold the President responsible,” said Lamborn said Friday during an interview on a Denver radio station. “Now I don’t want to even have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get, you get it, you know… you are stuck and you are part of the problem now and you can’t get away.”
Now critics are questioning his use of that term and are calling it highly offensive to the president.
The term “tar baby” is a reference to 19th-century Uncle Remus stories about Br’er Rabbit but has taken on a negative connotation towards African-Americans.
Lamborn spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said the comments were a misunderstanding and he apologizes.
“Congressman Lamborn regrets any misunderstanding. He simply meant to refer to a sticky situation or quagmire,” she said.
The Republican congressman is not the first to run into trouble with the phrase. Mitt Romney referred to the Big Dig construction project in Boston as a "tar baby" in 2006 during a fundraiser on the campaign trail. And Sen. John McCain also used the term during his campaign for president. Both men apologized.
The White House has not given any comment on Rep. Lamborn's remarks.