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Friday, March 16, 2007
McCain apologizes after using the phrase 'tar baby'


McCain apologized Friday for using a phrase some deem racist.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa CNN) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, issued an apology for his use of the phrase "tar baby" in response to a question he received at his mid-day town hall meeting in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Friday.

A questioner asked McCain whether as president he "would be bold enough to address the issue of equal access to children for fathers that have gone through divorce."

The Republican presidential candidate responded, "I'm sorry to disappoint you, I am not going to overturn divorce court decisions. That's why we have courts and that's why people go to court and get a divorce. If I as President of the United States said this decision has to be overturned without the proper appeals process then I would be disturbing our entire system of government... But for me to stand here before all these people and say that I'm going declare divorces invalid because someone feels that they weren't treated fairly in court, we are getting into a, uh, uh, tar baby of enormous proportions. For me to stand here before all these people and say that I'm going declare divorces invalid because someone feels that they weren't treated fairly in court, we are getting into a, uh, uh, tar baby of enormous proportions."

Later at a press conference, CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley asked McCain about his use of the phrase "tar baby," viewed by some as having racist overtones.

"I hope that it's not viewed that way," McCain said. "It was a situation where if I kept going on that I would then be overturning court decisions. I don't think I should have used that word and it was wrong to do so." (Watch Video: McCain uses phrase "tar baby," later apologizes)

-- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson

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