Congresswoman apologizes for comments to wheelchair-using candidate

Seeking to put an end to an incident that pundits say could tighten an already close U.S. House race, Rep. Barbara Cubin issued a public apology Tuesday for a comment she made to a disabled Libertarian candidate following a testy debate.

"It was person to person and it was not an attack on the disabled," Cubin said in a telephone interview from Rock Springs, Wyo. "In retrospect I was wrong in what I said and I apologize."

Cubin, who is seeking a seventh two-year term against Democrat Gary Trauner and Libertarian Thomas Rankin, also presented different account of what she said compared to what Rankin recalled and her account of the incident was different from the one her campaign initially issued.

Rankin, who has multiple sclerosis and uses an electric wheelchair, said that after the debate Sunday night Cubin "walked over to me and said, 'If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face."

Cubin said she went over to Rankin, challenged his debate assertions and remarked that "if you had said that to anyone else, they probably would have smacked you."

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