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Washington CNN  — 

A Republican candidate for Kentucky secretary of state has apologized after suggesting he’d like to use US Rep. John Yarmuth as target practice.

“I’m so proud of my @NRA rating, I’ll wear it on my chest,” Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, posted on Twitter Monday, along with a picture of him wearing a “F” pin showing his rating from the National Rifle Association.

Carl Nett, whose campaign website says he’s a former US Secret Service agent and CIA contractor, replied that Yarmuth should move the pin “over just a bit.”

“I was trained center mass,” he added, referring to the law enforcement tactic to hit a suspect’s vital organs. Nett has since deleted the tweet.

After receiving backlash from Democrats and Republicans in his state, Nett later apologized on Twitter.

“To the extent that anyone, including and most especially Congressman Yarmuth or members of his family, felt sincerely threatened or even offended by today’s social media post, I offer my sincere apology to them,” he wrote.

The Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self slammed Nett’s comments as “not only alarming but terribly offensive given the numerous shootings including on in Great Mills, Maryland today.”

The Louisville GOP condemned Nett’s comments and called it “especially disturbing in light of recent attacks on Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and our own Senator Rand Paul.”

The Scott County GOP wrote on Twitter that it “will not tolerate, in any form, a suggestion or even a hint of violence against anyone” and rescinded its invitation for Nett to speak at an event Tuesday, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

Before he apologized, Nett had initially responded that he protected Democrats like Barack Obama and the Clintons even though “I voted for none of them.”

“I would have DIED for any of them. My oath is to the Constitution. ALL politicians should keep that oath, first and foremost,” he wrote.

Nett later said he recognized his “attempt to be clever was far from clever.”

“I now join the long list of imperfect human beings with ‘foot-in-mouth’ disease. Once again, I apologize to Congressman Yarmuth and his family and ask for their forgiveness,” Nett tweeted.

The Louisville Division of the FBI told the Courier Journal it was aware of the tweet and is “working with our law enforcement partners to determine the best course of action.”