NEW YORK – State Comptroller Alan Hevesi publicly apologized Thursday for a "beyond dumb" remark about a fellow Democrat "putting a bullet between the president's eyes."
Hevesi hastily called a mea culpa press conference hours after putting his foot in his mouth at the Queens College commencement.
In the videotaped speech, Hevesi describes Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., as, "the man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, who will put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it."
At the news conference, a contrite Hevesi said he was trying to convey that Schumer has the strength and courage to stand up to the president.
"I do speak extemporaneously," he said. "And I've never said anything like this."
Hevesi apologized to Bush and Schumer and said he is "not a person of violence."
"I am apologizing as abjectly as I can. There is no excuse for it. It was beyond dumb."
Hevesi, a longtime professor of government and politics at Queens College before becoming comptroller, said he hadn't been in touch with the White House but hoped his apology reached President Bush.
A White House spokesman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Thursday. But one Republican seized on Hevesi's words.
"Threats against the president are no joke and this incident raises real concerns about Alan Hevesi's fitness to hold public office," GOP comptroller nominee J. Christopher Callaghan said during his acceptance speech at the Republican state convention on Long Island.
Schumer spokeswoman Risa Heller said the senator was satisfied with Hevesi's apology.
"Comptroller Hevesi was trying to make a point. He went way too far and it was inappropriate and wrong," Heller said. "He has apologized to both the senator and the president and we believe that ends the matter."