Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour speaks during the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 30, 2014, in New Orleans.
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When former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour called President Barack Obama’s policies “tar babies” during a conference call with clients of his lobbying group, he said he meant to convey the difficulty of the issues faced.

That’s what the former governor told Politico in an email responding to questions about the comment, which some consider a racial slur.

“The Oxford American Dictionary defines the term as ‘a difficult problem, that’s only aggravated by attempts to solve it.’ This is exactly what I meant and the context in which I used the term,” Barbour wrote to the news site in an email. “If someone takes offense, I regret it. But again, neither the context nor the connotation was intended to offend.”

According to Politico, the politician, who co-founded the BGR Group in the 1980s after he was President Ronald Reagan’s political director, made the comments during a conference call with 100 or so clients on Thursday. One person who was privy to the conversation told the news site that Barbour was talking about the current electoral situation and the current president’s policies and how that would affect upcoming 2016 candidates. 

“And then he said there is no one who will run for president who will endorse Obama’s issues, because Obama’s issues are ‘tar babies,’” the individual told Politico. 

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“In the Q and A portion of the call, there was a discussion about whether Democrats will run from or embrace the President’s policies and record in 2016. I replied that once candidates embraced the President’s policies and record they will be stuck with them—no matter how unpopular they are. Hence the literary reference,” Barbour explained to Politico.  

Read more at Politico.