State Senator Frank Ruff (R-VA) has apologized for comparing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion program to a “tar baby” at a breakfast held by the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce this week. In an interview with the Virginia Pilot, which first reported the comments, Ruff said he “meant nothing racial” by what he said.
While Ruff said he understood the term “tar baby” to mean a “sticky situation” and nothing more, it also has a negative racial connotation that derives from the Uncle Remus stories of the late 19th century in which Br’er Rabbit is trapped by a doll made of tar. In 2006, Mitt Romney had to apologize for using the term in reference to the fatal tunnel collapse in Boston.
Ruff told the Pilot he also called Danville’s African-American Mayor Sherman Saunders, who was present when he made the remark, to apologize.
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