Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and current Senate candidate in Arizona, said Thursday that he's sorry for a joke he made two years ago. The joke centered on the physiological changes in his twin brother, Scott, after he returned from a year in space, the Hill reports. Mark Kelly was asked about his brother in an appearance before the Boy Scouts of America, Northern New Jersey Council, in 2018. He said Scott's DNA was altered during his year on the space station. "I think the word hasn’t gotten out how bad it is for him," Mark Kelly said. "You know, it's gotten so bad, that we recently had to release him back into the wild. He’s like halfway between an orangutan and a Howler Monkey. We’ve even changed his name to Rodrigo. He lives in the woods."
A former Republican candidate for mayor of Phoenix put a video of the appearance on Twitter. "He must think people named Rodrigo look like monkeys," Moses Sanchez posted. "Time to move past this type of racism & time for the media to scrutinize Mark Kelly more thoroughly like they would a Republican." When asked by reporters Thursday about the comment, per the Arizona Republic, Kelly said, "My brother's year in space was really hard on him and we tried to bring some light to his difficult ordeal, but this comment does not do that and I apologize and deeply regret it." Republican groups had circulated the video. Kelly, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Martha McSally. Polls show him ahead. (Read more Mark Kelly stories.)