Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) issued a statement Wednesday personally apologizing to "any servicemember, family member, or American who was offended" by remarks he made that some deemed insulting to U.S. forces in Iraq.
That inflammatory remark, recorded at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday: "Education: If you make the most of it -- you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well; if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Six days before the election, Republicans have seized on the comment, saying it reflects Democrats' disdain for the U.S. military.
Kerry says the comment was misinterpreted -- a botched joke that was intended to insult the president -- and that he meant nothing negative toward the men and women in uniform. He says that what's at issue is his inability to tell a political joke, the way he intended to, and the way it was written.
The text of the original speech, supplied by Kerry's staff: "It's great to be here with college students. I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."
Sen. Kerry was on the Don Imus show Wednesday where he said, "Everybody knows I botched a joke. It's not the first time anybody's done that."
President Bush, visiting the Rush Limbaugh show Wednesday, said, "Anybody who is in a position to serve this country ought to understand the consequences of words. Our troops deserve the full support."