Kennedy Apologizes For Calling Haaland A ‘Whack Job’ After Misspeaking About Tanden

Republican candidate John Kennedy delivers a victory speech during an election party on December 10, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. KennedyÕs victory further strengthens the RepublicanÕs majority hold over the U.S. Senate.
BATON ROUGE, LA - DECEMBER 10: U.S. Senate Republican candidate John Kennedy delivers a victory speech during an election party on December 10, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kennedy's victory further strengthens t... BATON ROUGE, LA - DECEMBER 10: U.S. Senate Republican candidate John Kennedy delivers a victory speech during an election party on December 10, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kennedy's victory further strengthens the Republican's majority hold over the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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February 25, 2021 2:59 p.m.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) can’t seem to get his apologies straight.

Kennedy on Thursday issued an apology via Politico for calling President Biden’s interior secretary nominee, Deb Haaland, a “whack job.” But the Republican senator initially offered his apology to the wrong person.

He originally told Politico that he wanted to apologize to Biden’s OMB director nominee Neera Tanden, who has been caught up in Republicans’ faux outrage over her past confrontational tweets after years of ignoring former President Trump’s Twitter outbursts.

According to Politico, Kennedy expressed remorse for calling Haaland “a neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job.”

“I apologize. I was searching for a word for extremist, which I think is more neutral,” Kennedy told Politico, who earlier reported Kennedy as apologizing to Tanden. “And I should have said extremist. I never should have said whack job.”

It’s unclear why Kennedy initially misdirected his apology to Tanden. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold a Cabinet position. On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced his support of Haaland to lead the Interior Department under the Biden administration, likely securing her confirmation. Manchin’s support for Haaland’s confirmation came on the heels of his opposition to Tanden.

Politico acknowledged the mess-up in a clarification at the end of their report.

“CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to reflect that Kennedy misspoke in the interview about the Biden nominee he criticized. It was Deb Haaland,” Politico said in a note tacked on to the end of their story.

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