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Gingrich Steps Back From "Racist" Comment

A week after labeling Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor as racist, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has retreated from that comment.

In an e-mail to supporters, the Washington Bureau Chief for Cox Radio News, Gingrich says his stinging rebuke of President Barack Obama's pick was flawed.

"My initial reaction was strong and direct — perhaps too strong and too direct. The sentiment struck me as racist and I said so. Since then, some who want to have an open and honest consideration of Judge Sotomayor's fitness to serve on the nation's highest court have been critical of my word choice.

"With these critics who want to have an honest conversation, I agree. The word "racist" should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person, even if her words themselves are unacceptable," Gingrich wrote.

He is referring to comments Sotomayor made in 2001 to a Berkeley conference on law and diversity, where she said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

To read the rest of Gingrich's e-mail, click here.

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