Furor Ignites After Ga. Rep. Blasts McCain

Civil rights icon Lewis backs off Wallace comparison, but not far
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2008 10:38 AM CDT
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., says he never meant to compare John McCain and segregationist George Wallace.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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(Newser) – A day after igniting tensions in both campaigns, civil rights icon John Lewis sought to soften remarks that seemed to compare John McCain to segregationist George Wallace, Politico reports. “It was not my intention or desire to do so,” Lewis said last night. “My statement was a reminder to all Americans that toxic language can lead to destructive behavior.”

Lewis said he meant to suggest similarities between Wallace and McCain, who last August called Lewis one of “three wise men” he’d consult as president. But yesterday McCain blasted the Georgia congressman, calling his remarks “shocking and beyond the pale.” Barack Obama distanced himself from Lewis’ remarks, but also chided Sarah Palin for saying the Dem “pals around with terrorists.”