GOP Lawmaker Apologizes for Obama “Tar Baby” Remark

The Colorado lawmaker isn’t the first politician to use the offensive term.

Posted: 08/01/2011 11:03 PM EDT
Barack Obama, Doug Lamborn

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) has apologized for saying in an interview last Friday that working with Obama was “like touching tar baby.”

The comments were yet another display of unprecedented disrespect for President Obama by a Republican House member. Lamborn used the racially charged phrase to describe what it was like to negotiate with him over raising the debt ceiling.

Lamborn's spokesman issued a statement Monday that said the lawmaker “regrets any misunderstanding. He simply meant to refer to a sticky situation or quagmire.”

“Even if some people say, ‘Well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that,’ they will hold the president responsible. Now, I don’t even want to have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck, and you’re a part of the problem now and can’t get away,” Lamborn said in an interview on the Caplis and Silverman Show. “I don’t want that to happen to us, but if it does or not, he’ll still get, properly so, the blame because his policies for four years will have failed the American people."

The “tar baby” phrase originated in the 19th century Uncle Remus stories when the character Br’er Fox made a doll out of tar and turpentine to entrap his enemy Br’er Rabbit. Once used to describe a sticky situation, it has long been widely viewed as a racial slur against African-Americans.

He’s not the first politician to use publically use the phrase. In 2007, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) used it on the campaign trail and GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney did the same thing in 2006.

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