Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin apologized on Sunday to "those who were hurt" by recent comments he made about children being at risk for sexual abuse and drug use while teachers in the state are on strike.
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Bevin, a Republican, apologized for comments he made on Friday after state lawmakers voted to override his vetoes of a tax bill and operating budget that would have directed more funds toward public education.
“Clearly a tremendous number of people did not fully appreciate what I was communicating, or what it was that I was trying to say and I hurt a lot of people,” Bevin said in a nearly four-minute Facebook video posted on Sunday. “I apologize for those who were hurt by the things that were said, that was not my intent whatsoever."
Bevin came under fire on Friday after saying children would be sexually assaulted and poisoned as a result of an ongoing teachers strike throughout his state. Many called his statement insulting to teachers and insensitive to victims of abuse.
“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin said Friday, just moments after the vote. “I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent doesn’t have any money to take care of them.
“Some were introduced to drugs for the first time — because they were vulnerable and left alone,” he added.
But on Sunday, the governor claimed people had misunderstood his earlier statement, which he said were “comments on the unintended consequences of schools being shut down.”
“It is my responsibility to represent you, not only when I’m speaking to you but also when I’m speaking on your behalf,” Bevin wrote in the caption of Sunday’s video. “It is not my intent to hurt anyone ... but to help us all move forward.”
The video, which was shared more than 3,300 times and viewed over 360,000 times, had more than 10,000 Facebook reactions and comments as of early Monday.
Robin Cooper, one of thousands of educators who protested at the state's Capitol in recent weeks, said she voted for Bevin in 2015, but would never do it again.
"Seriously? That's not much of an apology," Cooper told The Associated Press after watching the video on Sunday. "I think he's gotten so much heat that he had to say something.
"But it still wasn't an apology. It was still him defending his words. Everyone heard his words. I don't know how we can misunderstand his intent. So that just kind of makes me angry," she added.