MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - The son of Senate candidate and former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson has apologized for telling Republicans that the November 6 election gives them the chance to send President Barack Obama back to Kenya.
Obama’s father was from Kenya and his mother was from Kansas. The president was born in Hawaii.
“We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago - or Kenya,” said Jason Thompson, a frequent surrogate for his father, who faces Democratic Representative Tammy Baldwin in a race for a Wisconsin Senate seat.
Wisconsin is also a battleground state in next month’s presidential election.
The 38-year-old Thompson was caught on a secretly recorded videotape speaking at a brunch on Sunday organized by the local Republican Party.
Attendees could be heard chuckling and a woman said: “We are taking donations for that Kenya trip.”
The elder Thompson’s campaign apologized for the remarks, which were recorded by a Democrat and appeared on website BuzzFeed Politics.
“The Governor has addressed this with his son, just like any father would do,” spokeswoman Lisa Boothe said in a statement. “Jason Thompson said something he should not have, and he apologizes.”
“Governor Thompson was not at the event,” Boothe added.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, attended the event along with Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Brad Courtney, according to local party spokesman Nathan Conrad.
Both condemned the remark.
“The comment was out of line and his son rightfully apologized,” Priebus said in a statement.
“The Republican Party of Wisconsin does not stand by these comments,” Conrad said.
A campaign spokesman for Baldwin said Jason Thompson’s remarks were “divisive political tactics.”
“It’s disappointing and unacceptable that Thompson’s campaign has crossed this line and Tommy Thompson hasn’t said one word about it publicly,” said spokesman John Kraus.
Some conservatives and conspiracy theorists have raised questions about whether Obama was born on foreign soil, which would make him ineligible for the presidency.
Obama released a detailed copy of his birth certificate last year that showed he was born in Hawaii to try to put an end to the widely discredited speculation.
Additional reporting and writing by Eric Johnson in Chicago; Editing by Alistair Bell and Xavier Briand