[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/28/art.gingrey.gi.jpg caption="Gingrey, with his family and President Bush in 2005, represents a conservative district of Georgia."](CNN) - Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia apologized Wednesday for criticizing conservative hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity, assuring his supporters that "I am one of you."
"I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives—that was not my intent," Gingrey said in a statement. "I am also sorry to see that my comments in defense of our Republican Leadership read much harsher than they actually were intended, but I recognize it is my responsibility to clarify my own comments."
The mea culpa comes one day after Gingrey appeared to take issue with Limbaugh's recent criticism of congressional Republicans. The conservative radio host said GOP leaders weren't adequately challenging President Obama on his proposed stimulus package.
"I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks," Gingrey told the Politico. "You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party."
The comments, published in a Politico story Tuesday afternoon, immediately prompted a flood of calls from aggrieved conservatives to Gingrey's congressional office, prompting the Georgia Republican to issue a clarification reasserting his conservative bona fides.
"As long as I am in the Congress, I will continue to fight for and defend our sacred values. I have actively opposed every bailout, every rebate check, every so called 'stimulus,' Gingrey said in the statement. "And on so many of these things, I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh."
Gingrey represents a conservative swath of Georgia stretching northwest of Atlanta to the Alabama border, and easily won reelection last November with close to 70 percent of the vote.
Still, many rank-and-file conservatives from both inside Gingrey's district and around the country openly expressed their dismay with the remarks, sparking concern within the congressman's office that the comments were being misinterpreted and could ultimately prove damaging.
"Those guys are some our biggest supporters, and we need them," Chris Jackson, a spokesman for Gingrey, told CNN of Limbaugh and Hannity.
I am a life-long Democrat, but I have learned so much from Rush. I have learned how to think about issues and not just accept what the pompous media feeds me. I don't always agree with Rush, but I respect the fact that he gives us information that we never hear in the media today.
Gingrey doesn't even have the guts to stand up for what he knows is right. As a resident of GA, it makes me sad.
That sounds a little soft to me. Maybe he should grow a spine
When did the GOP develop a gestopo?
Don't let anyone think for themselves Goppers! You might end up with good ideas.
It would totally suck to be a GOP congressperson and need to bow down to Rush Limbaugh and similar ilk on a daily basis. Could there be a worse job in America? Really, a fast food counter job would be FAR less humiliating.
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This is how intelligent Rush's supporters are.
Wow Rush, look at all the blogs you get!!!! You really scare the people, sorta like Sarah Palin.........they know when to get worried. You and Sarah really stir those Democrats up!!!!!