[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/28/art.palin.928.jpg caption="Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida is apologizing for recent comments about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin."]
(CNN) – An African-American congressman from Florida is apologizing for his comment that black and Jewish voters should not support Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin because "anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks."
"I regret the comments I made last Tuesday that were not smart and certainly not relevant to hunters or sportsmen," Rep. Alcee Hastings said in a statement issued Monday.
Last week, at a panel on the shared agenda of Jewish and African-American Democrats during the annual conference of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Hastings told attendees what he intended to tell his Jewish constituents about the importance of supporting Sen. Obama in November's presidential election. "If Sarah Palin isn't enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention," Hastings said last week. "Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through," he added
The comments elicited a swift response from the Republican Jewish Coalition. In a statement issued last week, Matt Brooks, the group's Executive Director, said Hastings "stooped to the worst kind of divisive politics."
"There should be no place in our country for this sort of political discourse. We can constructively disagree on the issues without denigrating others," added Brooks.
In his statement Monday, Hastings said he still backed the sentiment behind his initial remarks. "The point I made, and will continue to make, is that the policies and priorities of a McCain-Palin administration would be anathema to most African Americans and Jews," he said in his statement. "I regret that I was not clearer and apologize to Governor Palin, my host where I was speaking, and those who my comments may have offended."
Last Friday, the NJDC announced the launch of a new campaign of pro-Obama ads that will appear in Jewish newspapers across the country. The first ad in the campaign is timed to coincide with the Rosh Hashanah issues of the publications, and focuses on Obama's support for Israel. "Barack Obama is committed to a safe and secure Israel" and "believes that Israel must be preserved as a Jewish state," the ad reads.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has already launched its own series of election-related ads in Jewish newspapers throughout the country. The latest ad refers to some Obama's advisers as "pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, and even hostile to America" and states that "You can know a man by the company he keeps."