LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Republican state lawmaker hoping for his party's nod to run for Senate reportedly referred to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer as "that Jew" during a recent appearance before a Republican group.
State Sen. Kim Hendren told The Associated Press on Thursday that he was wrong to refer to Schumer's religious affiliation during a Pulaski County Republican Committee meeting last week. Hendren said he doesn't remember the exact wording of his comment, but he was quoted by conservative blogger Jason Tolbert as calling Schumer "that Jew."
"I ought not to have referred to it at all," Hendren told the AP. "When I referred to him as Jewish, it wasn't because I don't like Jewish people."
Hendren, 71, said he made the reference as he talked about comments the senior senator made criticizing some elements of the Republican Party.
"I shouldn't have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue," Hendren said.
Schumer's office issued a two-word statement Thursday about Hendren's comments: "Apology accepted."
Hendren, who once ran for governor as a Democrat against Bill Clinton in 1982, is the only person to have declared their candidacy to challenge Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2010. Hendren is also the minority leader in the state Senate.
Lincoln is seeking a third term in the Senate. State Republicans view her as vulnerable in the 2010 election.
In a statement, Lincoln's campaign manager Steve Patterson said the race shouldn't be about "offensive comments from the candidates."
"Sadly, these remarks speak for themselves," Patterson said.