POLITICS
03/21/2013 03:06 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2013

Louie Gohmert: I Probably Shouldn't Have Said 'Numb' When I Called John McCain 'Numbnuts'

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) sort of apologized to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday for calling him "numbnuts" last July, but mainly because he used the word "numb."

McCain sparred with Gohmert last year after Gohmert, along with a handful of other Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers, sent letters to five government agencies alleging that Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Clinton aide, had ties to a radical Islamist group. Their claims were condemned by people in both parties, including McCain, who called the allegations "ugly" and "sinister."

Gohmert said at the time that McCain was among "these numbnuts" who didn't bother to read the lawmakers' letters before lobbing criticisms. But this week, he said he recognized he probably shouldn't have said that.

"I did express my regret in saying he that was a numbnuts because I didn't -- I probably shouldn't have used the word 'numb,'" Gohmert said in an interview on "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," a radio show hosted by the conservative Family Research Council.

"That was probably unfair," he said.

Gohmert didn't seem to have any regrets about the contents of his letters though, despite the near-universal criticism that their claims about Abedin -- a widely respected State Department official -- were unfounded and offensive. GOP Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Thomas Rooney (Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (Ga.) also signed the letters.

"Anyway, yeah, [McCain] should have read the letters before he came out condemning what we said in them," Gohmert maintained Wednesday.

A McCain spokesman declined comment.

In the same interview, Gohmert also sang to the host ("Thisssss issss your birthday song! It doesn't last too long -- hey!"), trashed Mitt Romney for being "on both sides of most every issue," and botched a Mark Twain quote as he talked of GOP soul-searching ("Any reports of our demise and need for an autopsy I think are premature, to borrow from Samuel Clemens").

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