Congressman Mike Pence backtracked immediately Thursday after comparing the U.S. Supreme Court's health care decision to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
His comments came in a closed-door House GOP meeting, according to a Politico report.
Pence is a former member of Republican leadership who is considered the frontrunner to become governor of Indiana.
He held a conference call with Statehouse reporters Thursday and immediately addressed the unfortunate remark, saying he didn't intend to make the comparison but some people interpreted it that way.
"My remarks following the Supreme Court decision were thoughtless. I didn't intend to minimize any tragedy our nation has faced and I apologize."
Pence's Democrat opponent for governor - John Gregg - reacted in a statement, saying Pence owes a direct apology to firefighters, first responders and families of the thousands of Americans who gave their lives that day.
"Congressman Pence is a perfect example of what is wrong with politics today," he said. "He has the right to disagree with the Supreme Court, we all do. But for him to compare a disagreement over healthcare to the deaths of 3,000 Americans goes far beyond the bounds of common decency. To compare our legislative and judicial process to a terrorist attack is deeply disturbing and wrong."
Gregg went on to say Pence is not ready to lead Indiana.
"Indiana needs a governor that will bring us together, not tear us apart. Hoosiers do not want his Washington style of politics. Congressman Pence is out of touch and clearly does not have the temperament or judgment Indiana needs. He just disqualified himself from this race."
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