McCain Regrets Use of Term 'Tar Baby'

The Associated Press
Friday, March 16, 2007; 9:53 PM

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Republican presidential contender John McCain on Friday used the term "tar baby," considered by some a racial epithet, and later said he regretted it.

Answering questions at a town hall meeting, the Arizona senator was discussing federal involvement in custody cases when he said, "For me to stand here and ... say I'm going to declare divorces invalid because of someone who feels they weren't treated fairly in court, we are getting into a tar baby of enormous proportions and I don't know how you get out of that."

After the event, McCain told reporters: "I don't think I should have used that word and I was wrong to do so."

The senator said he hoped it wouldn't be viewed as a racial remark. He argued that he was trying to say that it wouldn't make sense for him to have a role in something left to the courts.

Last summer, a top McCain rival, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, apologized for referring to the troubled Big Dig construction project in Boston as a "tar baby" during a fundraiser in Ames, Iowa.

The term dates to the 19th century Uncle Remus stories, referring to a doll made of tar that traps Br'er Rabbit. It has become known as a way of describing a sticky mess and has been used as a derogatory term for a black person.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ The Arkansas Ethics Commission unanimously dismissed a complaint Friday over Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's destruction of computer hard drives as he left the governor's office this year.

The commission voted 4-0 to dismiss the complaint filed by Jim Parsons, said Graham Sloan, the commission's executive director.

In his complaint, Parsons claimed the former governor violated a state law requiring the retention of financial records for ballot initiatives for four years.

Parsons claimed Huckabee may have destroyed records for a 2005 highway bond proposal that was rejected by voters. Huckabee had pushed for the bond plan.

Last month, the commission dismissed another complaint filed by Parsons against Huckabee. Parsons had argued that Huckabee violated the state Freedom of Information Act by crushing the hard drives before he left office in January.

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