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Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) is apologizing for remarks that he made Wednesday calling the western part of his state, which he represents, a “racist area.”

“I apologize for making the comment that Western Pennsylvania is a racist area,” Murtha said in a statement. “While we cannot deny that race is a factor in this election, I believe we’ve been able to look beyond race these past few months, and that voters today are concerned with the policy differences of our two candidates and their vision for the future of our great country.”

The statement comes after Murtha told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”

In that interview, Murtha, who backed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the Keystone State primary, said he thinks the Illinois Democrat will carry the state in November, though narrowly.

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