[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/12/art.bo04122nd.ap.jpg caption="In an interview with a North Carolina paper Saturday, Sen. Obama tried to quell the controversy around his recent remarks."]
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Barack Obama said Saturday that if he has offended people with comments he made almost a week ago where he labeled small town Pennsylvanians "bitter" and that they "cling to guns and religion" then he regrets it.
"Obviously, if I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that," Obama said in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, according to a transcript provided by his campaign.
"The underlying truth of what I said remains, which is simply that people who have seen their way of life upended because of economic distress are frustrated and rightfully so," he told the North Carolina newspaper. "And I hear it all the time when I visit these communities."
Earlier in the day, Obama told an audience at a town hall meeting in Muncie, Indiana that he didn't word his comments "as well as he should have," but did not go as far as using the word "regret."
Obama first made the comments Sunday at a closed-press fundraiser in San Francisco.
Update with statement from McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds:
“Voters will reject his so-called truths that he still stands by. His remarks were false. The importance of our Second Amendment and our country’s longstanding history with faith and spirituality are born in history, not bitterness and frustration. His view is absolutely restricted by elitism.”
- CNN Political Producer Chris Welch