A top adviser to presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty has apologized for making a reference to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “sex appeal.”

Vin Weber, who served as co chairman of Pawlenty’s political action committee, was quoted Wednesday by The Hill newspaper saying that the Minnesota congresswoman will be tough to beat in the Iowa caucus.

“She’s got hometown appeal, she’s got ideological appeal, and, I hate to say it, but she’s got a little sex appeal too,” The Hill quoted Weber saying.

In a statement released through Pawlenty’s campaign, Weber noted that he has been a Bachmann supporter in the past and repeatedly apologized.

“I made a mistake that was disrespectful to my friend, Congresswoman Bachmann,” Weber said. “I was not speaking on behalf of Gov. Pawlenty’s campaign, but nevertheless, it was inappropriate and I’m sorry.”

Weber also served as a GOP congressman from Minnesota and is now an influential lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

Pawlenty, who served two terms as governor of Minnesota, will likely have to perform well in Iowa in order to have a good chance to win the Republican nomination. But Bachmann’s ascendancy and popularity among social conservatives has thrown a wrench in Pawlenty’s plans, with a recent poll showing her tied for the lead in Iowa.

(Note: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to Weber as co-chairman of Pawlenty’s campaign, rather than his PAC. The campaign has yet to name its chairs.)

Amy Gardner contributed to this report.

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