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Etheridge: 'I'm sorry' for D.C. street confrontation

Posted June 14, 2010

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— U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge apologized Monday, following the release of a video on the Web that shows the Democratic lawmaker in a physical confrontation with another man on a Washington D.C. sidewalk.

"I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction, and I apologize to all involved," Etheridge, who represents North Carolina's 2nd District, said in a statement. "Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect."

Etheridge – who represents Chatham, Cumberland, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Nash, Sampson, Vance and Wake counties – held a news conference Monday afternoon and apologized again.

"I came today to say I’m sorry ... I had a long day. It was at the end of the day," he said. "All of us have bad days, but that’s no excuse."

Etheridge declined to talk about the specifics of the day and told reporters several times that he was "not making excuses." When asked if he has apologized to the young men in the video, Etheridge said he hasn't because he still doesn't know who they are.

The edited video was posted Monday on websites owned by Andrew Breitbart, the conservative Web entrepreneur who also released video of workers for the community organizing group ACORN counseling actors posing as a pimp and prostitute.

Breitbart did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The video shows Etheridge walking down a street toward two young men with cameras. One man says: "Hi Congressman. How are you? Do you fully support the Obama agenda?"

Etheridge then asks "Who are you?" multiple times as he pushes the camera away and grabs the young man's wrist.

"Tell me who you are," Etheridge continues as the other man with a camera replies, "We're just here for a project, sir."

The young men tell the congressman they are students, but don't identity themselves further. One of the men then asks Etheridge: "Would you please let go of my hand?"

Etheridge eventually lets go of his wrist and grabs the man around the neck and then the shoulder as the other cameraman yells "Sir! Sir! Sir! Please!" Etheridge eventually walks away.

"No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response," Etheridge continued in his statement. "I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse."

Renee Elmers, a Republican who is running against Etheridge, said she is concerned about his reaction.

"Coming out and saying that this was just a poor response is really just hitting it just barely. I think there's some more explanation that needs to be made here," she said. "I feel for him. This is a very unfortunate situation. However, I do believe that his further responses may warrant more intervention."

North Carolina GOP leaders said Etheridge's apology was "too little, too late" and that his news conference raised more questions than answers.

"Mr. Etheridge offered no apology, released no statement and in fact acted as though the physical assault never happened until the press became aware of the YouTube video which by now had gone viral,” Mark Otto, second district Republican chairman, said in a news release.

North Carolina State University political science professor Andy Taylor says candidates must be on the guard when a tense political environment and social media combine.

"We've always been titillated as a public by trying to catch public figures off their guard," Taylor said.

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  • sunneyone Jun 16, 2010

    Those two boys were students like I'm Miss America.

  • demo7691 Jun 16, 2010

    I think Etheridge in a pay per view match with a group of cub scouts next might be the next big think when they ask him about govt.

  • jet2rdu Jun 15, 2010

    Take a look at a map of the NC 2nd congressional district. The shape of the district is the same shape as the Bob's hand grip around the student's wrist.

    Maybe, Bob was just giving the "secret NC-2 handshake" to the student.

  • Just the facts mam Jun 15, 2010

    It is time for Rep. Etheridge to retire. He and Rep. Price have both been there too long and are doing more damage than good to the long-term financial health of America.

  • soyousay Jun 15, 2010

    And vote for Renee Elmers and I dont even like republican!
    jimmyfray

    sure you don't...you're way to transparent

  • soyousay Jun 15, 2010

    hcain..

    now the guy, formerly a student, has morphed into a constiuent and you are afraid for your and child. It gets better by the moment

  • hcain73 Jun 15, 2010

    I am just willing to think that the two guys were the instigators and their wrist was holding Bob's hand and they somehow slipped under his arm and Bob caught him from falling and held him there. This kind of thought is so typical from each side. Fact is this---Bob grabbed the arm of a constituent and would not let go and then pursued to grab him around the neck. This is fact. I hope this story does not go away, because he is in our schools locally and our businesses. I do not want him possibly hurting my wife or child if they ask a similar question. People wake up in NC.

  • You have got to be kidding me Jun 15, 2010

    Don't be so cynical. I deeply and profoundly believe that Etheridge deeply and profoundly regrets that his actions were caught on camera.

  • rhowerton Jun 15, 2010

    Etheridge, IS A JERK.IF THAT HAD BEEN MY SON, THERE WOULD BE ASAULT CHARGES. THE YOUNG BOY DID NOTHING WRONG. HE JUST WANTED A INTERVIEW FOR HIS WORK AT SCHOOL. I HAVE VOTED FOR HIM IN THE PAST BUT NOT ANYMORE. WE DON'T NEED A MAN LIKE ETHERIDGE IN THE CONGRESS. PLEASE FOR GOD SAKES & AMERICAN PEOPLE VOTE NO SO WE CAN PUT HIM OUT. HE IS A LIER. JUST LIKE HIS BRO OBAMA

  • KT6596 Jun 15, 2010

    Bob’s next opponent; Kimbo Slice!

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