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Obama gives Jenkins a pass on 'white hope'

OAK BLUFFS, Mass., Aug. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama gave Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., a pass Thursday after she apologized for saying her party is hunting for a "great white hope."

The freshman congresswoman had made the comment at a GOP event this month when talking about the party's need to find a bright new leader to fend off Obama's political priorities.

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Jenkins told the Lawrence Journal-World she was "unaware of any negative connotation" to the phrase, which originated a century ago in the sport of boxing and referred to the desire to find a white man who could win back the world heavyweight title from Jack Johnson, who was black.

"If I offended somebody, obviously I apologize," she said.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, addressing reporters in Massachusetts where Obama -- America's first black president -- is vacationing, refrained from going on the offensive against Jenkins.

"I saw that report. I also saw that her spokesperson backpedaled and said that that was a poor choice of words," Burton said. "We obviously give Congresswoman Jenkins the benefit of the doubt."

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