Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) (AP Photo/David Harpe.)

A Republican candidate for statewide office in Kentucky apologized after suggesting that he would like to use a Democratic representative from his state as a shooting target.

Carl B. Nett made the threat on Twitter on Tuesday after Rep. John Yarmuth, who represents the Louisville area, boasted about his F rating from the National Rifle Association, and posted a picture of himself showing an F pin on his lapel.

“I’m so proud of my @NRA rating, I’ll wear it on my chest,” Yarmuth wrote.

Nett, a former Secret Service Agent and CIA contractor according to his campaign site, responded by saying, “Move it over just a bit,” seemingly implying that the F could be moved closer over Yarmuth’s heart or other vital organs. “I was trained center mass.”

Center mass refers to the tactical training given to many law enforcement officers to hit targets in the center of their body.

Nett, who is running to be Kentucky’s secretary of state — a position that oversees the state’s elections — deleted the threat after it drew outcry online, including from some Republicans, and apologized.

“I recognize that my attempt to be clever was far from clever, particularly in light of politically motivated acts of violence against elected officials – from the shooting of Republican congressman at a softball practice to the blindside attack on our own Senator, Rand Paul,” he wrote.  “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 also noted that he had worked to protect Democrats like Hillary and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Joe Biden, although he had not voted for them. But the Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville posted an image of a tweet it said Nett sent in 2016 that sharply contrasted with his apologetic boast about public service in the Secret Service.

“Note that I only protected Obama a few times,” the tweet from Nett’s account read. “I’m not a bullet sponge for just anybody.”

The tweet is no longer visible on Nett’s account, and Nett’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the past tweet.

The state Democratic Party released a statement that called Nett unfit for public office.

“Carl Nett’s comment about shooting Rep. John Yarmuth is not only alarming but terribly offensive given the numerous shootings including one in Great Mills, Maryland today,” state party chair Ben Self wrote.

The FBI said it was aware of the tweet and was determining the “best course of action.”

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