U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia backed away Tuesday from comparing the policies of President-elect Barack Obama to those of Hitler or a Marxist dictator.
After stirring a controversy that was grabbing national attention, the Republican lawmaker from Athens apologized for making such references.
“I regret putting it that way,” Broun told WGAC radio in Augusta. “I apologize to anyone who has taken offense at that.”
Broun acknowledged that he called Obama a Marxist at a Rotary Club meeting in Augusta last week. In an Associated Press interview Monday night, he went further, charging that an Obama campaign proposal for a civilian national security reserve corps would be like the security forces of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
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The Obama transition office has declined comment on Broun’s remarks, but a spokesman told the AP that the idea of a civilian corps was similar to one proposed by the Bush administration to recruit civilians for defense-related work such as rebuilding war-torn Iraq.
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“The point I tried to make is that he is extremely liberal, he has promoted a lot of socialistic ideas, and it just makes me concerned,” Broun said Tuesday.
His comments to the Associated Press, however, drew criticism from Georgia Democrats and both of the state’s Republican senators Tuesday.
“I don’t agree with the statement,” said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who called the president-elect Monday and left a message of congratulations.
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss echoed that view. “I commend President-elect Obama on his historic election,” said the senator, who faces a run-off on Dec. 2 with Democratic challenger Jim Martin.