WASHINGTON (AFP) — Civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson apologized to White House contender Barack Obama on Wednesday for making a "crude" remark about him, which was picked up by a live television microphone.
Jackson was apparently unaware his mic was still on after a Fox News interview when he whispered to another guest that Obama, who is vying to become the first African-American president, has been "talking down to black people."
The reverend then added: "I want to cut his **** off."
"For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize," Jackson said in a statement.
"My support for Senator Obama's campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal. I cherish this redemptive and historical moment.
"My appeal was for the moral content of his message to not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males, but to deal with the collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy which would be a corrective action for the lack of good choices that often led to their irresponsibility," Jackson said.
"That was the context of my private conversation and it does not reflect any disparagement on my part for the historic event in which we are involved or my pride in Senator Barack Obama, who is leading it."
Later, in an interview on CNN, Jackson said he had said "something I regret was crude. It was very private. And very much a sound bite."
Obama accepted Jackson's apology.
"As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children's lives," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
"He also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice, and opportunity for all. He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson's apology," Burton said in a statement.
Jackson, 66, is a former associate of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King, and made his own unsuccessful runs for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988.
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