MILWAUKEE (AP) — Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson said Tuesday that his son feels terrible for suggesting that voters should send President Barack Obama back to Kenya.
The former Wisconsin governor, who is locked in a close race for the state's Senate seat, was pressed by reporters about Jason Thompson's comment Sunday that was caught on camera. The younger Thompson told a brunch hosted by the Kenosha County Republican Party that "we have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago — or Kenya."
"I talked to my son. He feels terrible about it," Tommy Thompson said. "Nobody is suffering more than he is about this. He has apologized and that's all I'm going to say about it."
Obama's father was Kenyan, but the president was born in Hawaii.
Asked if his son should apologize to the president, Thompson said no.
"He's already apologized," the older Thompson said. "It was an off-handed remark that somebody mentioned in the audience. You look at the movie. He didn't say it. Somebody in the audience said it and he repeated it. I've talked to him about it and he's apologized and that's it."
Thompson's comments were the first by the candidate since the news broke about the remark. He addressed the issue at a brief news conference with reporters after he toured Grover Corp., a manufacturer of piston rings, and received the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The campaign has issued a statement Monday saying Jason Thompson had apologized.
The younger Thompson, an attorney at a large Milwaukee law firm, made the remarks at a brunch. The comment drew laughs from the crowd, with one woman joking, "We are taking donations for that Kenya trip."
The video was taken by a Democratic Party operative and posted at BuzzFeed Politics on Sunday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Brad Courtney also spoke at the Kenosha event.
Thompson is in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin for the open Senate seat. Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl is retiring.