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State lawmaker apologizes for slavery remark, says taken out of context

CNN News Wire | 10/29/2013, 1:15 p.m.
A state lawmaker in Nevada who came under fire after a YouTube video surfaced in which he told a Republican ...
State lawmaker Jim Wheeler from Nevada came under fire after a YouTube video surfaced in which he told a Republican gathering he would vote to allow slavery if that's what his constituents wanted him to do, says his remarks were taken out of context and that he used an extreme example only to show how much he supports those who voted him into office.

A state lawmaker in Nevada who came under fire after a YouTube video surfaced in which he told a Republican gathering he would vote to allow slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted him to do, says his remarks were taken out of context and that he used an extreme example only to show how much he supports those who voted him into office.

But Nevada state Assemblyman Jim Wheeler added that if his comments “were taken with offense by anyone, I sincerely apologize.”

Wheeler immediately came under fire Monday by Democrats and Republicans after the YouTube video from August surfaced. It shows Wheeler making the controversial comments at a Storey County Republican Party meeting.

“If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose ... they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah,” Wheeler said in the video, which was taken down from YouTube.

Wheeler has issued a statement explaining his comments.

“The media is having a good time with a clearly facetious statement I made in a town hall meeting earlier this year. They’re attempting to spin an extreme example I used about supporting my constituents to accuse me of being racist. Anybody that knows me knows that’s absurd, and anyone that views the comments in context understands that the whole point of the example is that racism of any kind is something that I find completely unacceptable.”

“During the meeting, I was asked how I would vote if I believed one way on an issue, and my constituents believed the opposite. I stated the truth that I believe, which is that in a Representative Republic I’m hired by the people to represent their views. I used an over the top example of something that I absolutely do not agree with, and even mentioned that to get me to vote for such a thing, my constituents would literally have to hold a gun to my head.”

“In reality, that isn’t the case at all. If my constituents wanted to do something as outlandish as bring back an abhorrent system, then I simply couldn’t represent them anymore. They would remove me from office, or I’d have to resign.”

At the end of his statement, Wheeler included an apology.

“If my comments were taken with offense by anyone, I sincerely apologize. I intended the statement as an extreme example of something unacceptable, and hope that’s how it’s taken,” he said.