Republican Rep. Geoff Davis apologizing to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday after referring to him as "that boy."
Addressing a Republican gathering Saturday night, the Kentucky lawmaker said, "That boy's finger does not need to be on the button." Davis was talking about political and national security issues at an annual GOP dinner.
Davis' campaign said it sent a letter to Obama apologizing for the remark, which was reported on blogs and newspaper Web sites, including the Lexington Herald-Leader's Pol Watchers site.
"My poor choice of words is regrettable, and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity," Davis wrote in the letter delivered to Obama's Washington office Monday afternoon. "I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness."
Earlier, Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said, "It's hard to tell what is more outrageous - Representative Davis' condescending and personal attack, or his absurd and offensive claim that Barack Obama is not prepared to defend America."
The letter was released by Davis campaign manager, Jeremy Hughes.
Davis, who represents Kentucky's 4th Congressional District, has two Republican challengers in the GOP primary May 20. The winner will face Democrat Michael Kelley, a northern Kentucky physician.
University of Louisville political scientist Laurie Rhodebeck said the comment "has racial connotations" and reinforces southern stereotypes, but, she said, it likely won't negatively affect Davis' re-election campaign.
"It's up to the public to decide whether it was just a slip of the tongue, not meant with any ill intent, or if he meant it and now he realizes he shouldn't have said it," Rhodebeck said.
Michael Baranowksi, a political scientist at Northern Kentucky University, said people are going to read racial overtones in Davis' comments.
"It just seems like, given Sen. Obama's race, that would be an awfully big slip of the tongue," Baranowski said.