Washington (CNN) - Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is walking back remarks he made on conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's show last month in which he called President Obama "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times."
In an interview with CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer on the Situation Room, Issa initially said, 'It was a campaign and I make no bones about it - if I had to do it over again I'd have parsed my words a little more carefully."
But he defended his use of the word corrupt, saying, "When you hand a president nearly a trillion dollars in walking around money, he uses it for political paybacks, that's corrupt."
Pressed on the point, Issa said, "Do I think the president is personally corrupt, no, I should never have implied that or created that in a quick statement on a radio call-in."
During the interview, Issa also called for bipartisan cooperation and insisted that his leadership of the Government Reform committee would not be a witch-hunt for members of previous administrations, but rather a way to improve the function of government.
"Our committee is supposed to be about finding ways to - creating reform, making government do its job, and do it within a smaller budget, not a larger budget," Issa said, adding that he plans to continue bipartisan initiatives that were part of the committee's agenda while Democrats were in power.
On how Republicans would govern, Issa said the GOP's past mistakes would play a role, and urged caution for the future.
"We've learned lessons by being voted out," Issa said of Republicans. "If we don't make a change in these two years we don't deserve to continue to have an opportunity to lead."