Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) recently questioned President Barack Obama's birthplace and patriotism, then quickly apologized for the comments. The Denver NBC affiliate 9NEWS first broke the story and posted the audio online late Wednesday night.
"I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that," Coffman said on Saturday at a fundraiser at the Elbert County Fairgrounds."But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American."
The comments come as Coffman is in the fight of his career against state Rep. Joe Miklosi (D) in the redrawn 6th district.
Coffman has a solid conservative record. After redistricting, however, he is running for re-election in a much more moderate district than his current safe Republican district. His seat is a top target for Democrats.
"I think he thought he was in his old district," said a Colorado Democratic strategist who is not involved in the race.
A Coffman supporter named Brooks Imperial posted the audio online. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee notified the local news outlet of its existence.
Coffman's campaign referred Roll Call to an apology previously written to 9NEWS.
"I misspoke and I apologize," he wrote in a statement to the news station. "I have confidence in President Obama's citizenship and legitimacy as President of the United States."
"I don't believe the president shares my belief in American Exceptionalism. His policies reflect a philosophy that America is but one nation among many equals," he added. "As a Marine, I believe America is unique and based on a core set of principles that make it superior to other nations."
Obama recently countered criticism over whether he believes that United States is an exceptional country.
According to the Colorado Democratic strategist who is not involved in the race, the original comments are all the talk in Colorado political circles. It led the affiliate's evening news.
Miklosi issued a statement early today.
"Mike Coffman has shown an offensive lack of respect for the Office of the President and has done so simply to score political points.This kind of rhetoric is beneath his office and has no place in politics," Miklosi said. "Disagreeing with the President is one thing but to accuse the Commander in Chief of being un-American is simply shameful. Its this kind of behavior that causes so much dysfunction in Washington and it needs to stop."
Roll Call rates this race as Leans Republican.