Iowa Rep. invokes "Trail of Tears" in March Madness message

This this Oct. 29, 2010, file photo shows U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in Dubuque, Iowa.
File,AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

After Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa sent a Twitter message Thursday comparing one team's March Madness loss to the "Trail of Tears", he promptly deleted the message and apologized Friday morning.

In a men's basketball game last Sunday, Iowa State was narrowly beaten by Ohio State, which landed a last-minute three pointer to claim victory, preventing Iowa State from advancing in the tournament.

After Ohio State repeated that feat during their game against Arizona on Thursday, again sinking a last-minute shot for the win, Braley took to Twitter to express his angst.

"It's official. Ohio State is the luckiest team in the tournament. #TrailofTears," Braley tweeted, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Trail of Tears refers to the forced relocation of American Indian tribes during the 1890s by the federal government, which uprooted thousands of Cherokee natives from Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee and marched them west to reside in what is now Oklahoma. Hundreds perished during the march, and thousands more died subsequently due to the effects of relocation.

Braley apologized early on Friday morning, sending another message that explained, "The 'tears' I was referring to were the tears of Cyclone fans. I have removed the tweet & apologize to anyone who was offended."

Braley, who has represented Iowa in the U.S. House since 2007, announced in February that he would seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who has indicated that he will retire when his current term expires in 2015.