ABC News’ Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports:
In the midst of the contentious debt-ceiling stalemate last week, Republican Representative Doug Lamborn of Colorado used a controversial, racially-charged phrase to describe working with the president on the deficit.
“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 you can’t get away,” Lamborn said Friday on the Caplis and Silverman Show on 630 KHOW talk radio.
“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,” he added.
The phrase originally comes from the 19th-century Uncle Remus stories when the character Br’er Fox makes a “tar-baby,” a doll made of tar and turpentine, to entrap his nemesis Br’er Rabbit. The phrase came to stand for a “sticky situation” but later developed racial implications and is now often viewed as a slur towards African Americans.
The congressman is not the first politician to be caught using the phrase. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., used the term on the campaign trail in 2007 and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made the mistake in 2006 when referencing a troubled infrastructure project.
Lamborn's office clarified his comment Monday, saying “Congressman Lamborn regrets any misunderstanding. He simply meant to refer to a sticky situation or quagmire,” according to his spokesperson.