CEDAR FALLS, Iowa, March 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., apologized Friday for using the phrase "tar baby" during a campaign stop in Iowa.
McCain was answering a question from a man who wanted to know if he would talk about fathers' having equal access to their children after divorce, CNN reported.
"For me to stand here before all these people and say that I'm going to declare divorces invalid because someone feels that they weren't treated fairly in court, we are getting into a, uh, uh, tar baby of enormous proportions," he said.
During a news conference, a CNN reporter asked McCain if he feels that "tar baby" has racist overtones.
"I hope that it's not viewed that way," McCain said. "It was a situation where if I kept going on that I would then be overturning court decisions. I don't think I should have used that word and it was wrong to do so."
The phrase comes from one of the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. Harris, writing in the late 19th century, described an old black slave telling animal fables to white children, including one where "Brer Fox" makes a sticky tar baby to trap "Brer Rabbit."