(Boston-AP) July 31, 2006 - Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is apologizing for referring to the troubled Big Dig construction project as a "tar baby."
Romney made the comment during a speech at a fund-raiser with Iowa Republicans on Saturday. Romney told the crowd "The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can."
Romney says he didn't know anyone would be offended by the term some consider a racial epithet.
Black leaders were outraged. The term dates back to the 19th century Uncle Remus stories, referring to a doll made of tar that traps Br'er Rabbit. It has come to be known as a way of describing a sticky mess, and has been used as a derogatory term for a black person.
Romney is considering a run for president in 2008 and acknowledges he's taking a political risk by taking control of the project after a fatal tunnel ceiling collapse, but says inaction would have been even worse.