Rusty DePass, the South Carolina Republican who compared a gorilla to an ancestor of first lady Michelle Obama, has officially apologized.

At an NAACP news conference in Columbia today, Depass said his comments were “a flippant remark made without thinking.” He also said he had written a letter of apology to the first lady.

“It was wrong and foolish, and I deeply regret it and any pain it has produced … All I can do is ask you to forgive me,” DePass said in a prepared statement with state NAACP President Lonnie Randolph standing nearby.

The South Carolina chapter of the NAACP this week had called on DePass to make a “proper” apology for remarks he posted to his Facebook page on Friday, June 12.

Minutes after the report of a brief gorilla escape from the Columbia zoo, DePass posted on a Facebook page that he was sure “it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors — probably harmless.” The posting then was publicized on a South Carolina politics blog.

At today’s press conference, a contrite DePass said he had embarrassed his family, himself and his friends.

“My remark was clearly inappropriate, and I apologize for writing it,” he said. “…It was wrong, it was foolish, and I deeply regret it.”

Randolph, the state NAACP president, said he was glade DePass decided to apologize. “If other persons of good faith, good will and good conscience decide that they want to make South Carolina better, this is the way to do it,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

The AP also reported that DePass had resigned from his job as a real estate broker because of the controversy.

Click here to read more and to see a video of the apology.

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