Texas Sen. Ted Cruz rattled off a line about Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday that he's been using during stump speeches.
At an appearance in Howell, Michigan, the Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator told his audience that one need only mention Biden's name to get people to laugh.
“Joe Biden … You know what the nice thing is? You don’t even need a punch line," Cruz said. "I promise you it works. The next party you're at, just walk up to someone and say, 'Vice President Joe Biden' and just close your mouth. They will crack up laughing."
But that line, at one time a joke that drew chuckles, prompted a fierce backlash against Cruz because it came just weeks after Biden’s son died. Cruz was forced to apologize after the campaign event following criticism that the made the joke at the expense of someone mourning his son’s death.
Cruz's comments were met with disdain from top Democrats in Michigan, including Lon Johnson, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.
"When it counted, and it always does for someone attempting to become the leader of our nation, Sen. Cruz demonstrated a true lack of Christian compassion for a father mourning a son," Johnson said in a statement.
But Cruz went on Facebook a day later to apologize.
In his post, the Texas senator says, "It was a mistake to use an old joke about Joe Biden during his time of grief, and I sincerely apologize."
Beau Biden, a former Delaware attorney general, died of brain cancer last Saturday at the age of 46. President Barack Obama is to deliver the eulogy at a funeral Mass for Biden on Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware, the White House said on Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.