Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is backpedaling from his threat to punch a reporter who asked about problems in the government's wild horse program at a campaign event. "The secretary regrets the exchange," says a spokesman of the incident, which took place on November 6 while Salazar was on a Colorado tour in support of President Obama's re-election.
A reporter for The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Dave Philipps, asked Salazar about the wild horse program and a horse slaughter proponent who has bought hundreds of the protected animals. Salazar answered, but cut the interview short, accusing Philipps of ambushing him. "Don't you ever," he said. "You know what, you do that again... I'll punch you out." The Gazette says it held the audio in hopes of getting a real interview with Salazar, but horse advocates publicized the exchange first. "Holding our public officials accountable is one of the cornerstones of our role as journalists," says a Gazette spokesman. "We are dismayed that anyone would respond to legitimate questions in such a fashion."