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 called a mea culpa press conference hours after putting his foot in his mouth at the Queens College commencement.
"I apologize to the president of the United States" and to the fellow state politician, Sen. Charles Schumer, Hevesi said. "I am not a person of violence.
"I am apologizing as abjectly as I can. There is no excuse for it. It was beyond dumb."
At the news conference, a contrite Hevesi repeated what he recalled saying in the speech. The comptroller said he was merely trying to convey that Schumer has strength and courage to stand up to the president on major policy issues.
According to a videotape of the speech, Hevesi said:
"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. The toughest senator, the best representative. A great, great member of the Congress of the United States."
Hevesi said he hadn't been in touch with the White House but he hoped his apology reached President Bush.
Hevesi, a longtime professor of government and politics at Queens College before becoming comptroller, also referred to his comments as "remarkably stupid" and "incredibly moronic."
"I do speak extemporaneously," he said. "And I've never said anything like this."
Schumer spokeswoman Risa Heller said the senator was satisfied with Hevesi's apology.
"Comptroller Hevesi was trying to make a point," Heller said. "He went way too far, and it was inappropriate and wrong. He has apologized to both the senator and the president, and we believe that ends the matter."
A White House spokesman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Thursday. But at least 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 in Hempstead, N.Y.
Well... I guess since he apologized that everything he said is fine... we ought to just give him a pass, I guess. <-- (Tounge in Cheek)