CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An offhand comment made to a group of supporters has North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr apologizing.
An audio recording surfaced of Burr speaking to a group of volunteers in Mooresville last weekend.
“I walked into a gun shop,” Burr told the crowd. “There was a copy of (NRA magazine American) Rifleman on the counter. It had a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front of it. I was a little bit shocked at that. It didn’t have a bulls eye on it.”
The crowd laughed at the remark, but now Burr is answering questions about whether he was encouraging violence against Clinton.
A number of nationwide groups that are backing Burr’s opponent Deborah Ross made critical statements Tuesday about the comment.
“Words matter, and calls for violence are not a joke,” Planned Parenthood officials said.
“Where is Richard Burr’s judgment?” Emily’s List, an American political action committee, said in a statement.
“We live in a civil society, and encouraging violence, even in jest, is not befitting a senator,” Ross said as she campaigned in Charlotte.
Some who’ve raised questions about Burr’s comment said it reminds them of controversial remarks earlier this year from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who was talking to a crowd in Wilmington, North Carolina.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump said in Wilmington.
“Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.”
Political experts said Burr’s remark is taking precious last-minute time away from the senator’s campaign.
“In the context of a competitive campaign where there has been violence in the campaigns and a firebombing of a local party headquarters, you don’t want to ratchet up the perception that violence is tolerated,” University of North Carolina-Charlotte political scientist Eric Heberlig said.
A statement released by Richard Burr’s office said, “The comment I made was inappropriate, and I apologize for it.”
A new poll from Elon University released Tuesday shows Burr holding a three-point lead over Deborah Ross.
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