Kennedy: I’m sorry for calling Haaland a ‘whack job’

Sen. John Kennedy apologized on Thursday for calling President Joe Biden’s Interior Department nominee, Deb Haaland, a “whack job.“

The Louisiana Republican said he regretted the remark about Haaland, explaining that he was searching for another word before calling her “a neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job.”

“I apologize. I was searching for a word for extremist, which I think is more neutral,“ Kennedy said. “And I should have said extremist. I never should have said whack job.“

He offered the apology after an interview on an another subject but said he had “felt bad about that all day“ on Wednesday after tagging Haaland with the barb.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Neera Tanden, nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee on February 10, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Tanden helped found the Center for American Progress, a policy research and advocacy organization and has held senior advisory positions in Democratic politics since the Clinton administration. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

Kennedy is known for colorful language — and insults. He once said former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was tough as a “boiled owl” and remarked of Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “It must suck to be that dumb.” He said during budget chief nominee Neera Tanden’s confirmation hearing that she had called Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) everything but an “ignorant slut,” a reference to a decades-old “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

His apology comes after women’s rights activists and progressive Democrats spoke out to defend Biden’s nominees of color, in the face of what they saw as a double standard applied to the aspiring budget chief’s teetering nomination.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to reflect that Kennedy misspoke in the interview about the Biden nominee he criticized. It was Deb Haaland.

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