Image: Ken Buck, Jane Norton, Ron Zapolo
Ed Andrieski  /  AP
KDRV Television news anchor Ron Zapolo, center, anchors a debate between Colorado GOP U.S. Senate candidates Ken Buck, right, and Jane Norton, left, on Friday. Buck was caught on audio tape expressing his frustration with tea party members' questions regarding the citizenship of President Obama.
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updated 7/26/2010 4:26:38 PM ET 2010-07-26T20:26:38

A Republican Senate candidate for Colorado apologized Monday for making disparaging remarks about tea party members who questioned the authenticity of President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Ken Buck was caught on audio tape expressing his frustration with the so-called birthers, saying: "Will you tell those dumba---s at the tea party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I'm on the camera?"

His spokesman, Owen Loftus, said the tape was surreptitiously made by a Democratic staffer assigned to follow Buck. It was obtained by the Denver Post and Denver television station KUSA-TV.

Buck, a conservative supported by many tea party members, has said that he believes Obama is a natural-born citizen.

Loftus said Buck regretted using the profanity and that he was frustrated with people asking him about the birth certificate, which takes away the focus from issues like the national debt and Obama's health care reform.

He said Buck had been asked about the birth certificate issue at a campaign event in Pueblo and made the comments before a later event in Crowley on June 11. He said such unguarded comments are bound to happen after long days of campaigning.

"He was frustrated, and he vented to the wrong person on that," Loftus said.

Trackers from the rival party, such as the Democrat at Buck's event, are typical on the campaign trail, and Buck isn't the first candidate to be embarrassed by one. In 2006, former Virginia Sen. George Allen lost his re-election bid when he was filmed referring to an aide working for his Democratic rival as a "macaca," which is regarded as a racial slur. The aide is of Indian descent.

Buck's comments comes after he was recently filmed telling a Republican voter to choose him over GOP opponent Jane Norton "because I do not wear high heels." Norton has turned the comment into a campaign ad and used it as an opportunity to talk about the need for more conservative women in Washington, D.C.

Norton seized on Buck's latest gaffe Monday and told reporters that Buck is a phony who pretends to agree with tea partiers.

"Ken Buck feels differently when he thinks — wrongly, in this case — that no one is listening," Norton said. She also said that Buck "pretends to be a breath of fresh air."

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Norton added that she doesn't personally question about Obama's eligibility to be president. "The birther question has been settled," she said.

Lu Busse, chairwoman of the tea party group 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition, said she didn't like Buck's choice of words. She said, however, that party members who are accustomed to being called names still largely support him.

She said that includes those who question Obama's place of birth and those who aren't concerned about the issue.

She also said the birth certificate issue is part of a bigger question about Obama's presidency that should be addressed in the 2012 presidential election, not this year's Senate primary.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Buck caught mocking Tea Party

  1. Closed captioning of: Buck caught mocking Tea Party

    >>> "decision 2010 " time. ken buck surged from no-name status to lead in my public polls largely on the support of conservatives and tea party activists and the activists held a ton of events around the state and even poured money into the campaign. well now, a democratic campaign tracker has caught buck on tape in comments which might leave him with some explaining to do with some of his die-hard supporters. take a listen. would you tell those [ bleep ] at the tea party to stop asking questions about birth certificate while i'm on the camera? what am i supposed to do?

    >> well, buck apologized yesterday saying he was quote venting to the wrong person under the wrong circumstances. it isn't the first time, of course, opponents tried to use the free-wheeling speaking style against him. jay norton 's ads playing off of a moment saying voters should pick him because, quote, he doesn't wear high heels and asked about that gaffe in a debate that aired yesterday and he explained.

    >> i was at a lunch that was not a politically serious lunch and i didn't want to answer the question in a politically serious way. i'm human beings and amazed that jane make the comment 12, 15 times in different ways.

    >> are you offended?

    >> no. but i think it just begs the question, is this befitting a united states senator ?

    >> well, look. the timing of this latest leak just two weeks before the mail-in primary ballots are due is interesting. what are democrats up to? trying to create fiction inside the primary or pull norton to the right to defend the tea party activists. notice in the response was don't ask, have them ask me those questions on camera. anyway, norton 's conservative cred got a boost from arizona governor brewer who endorsed her and taped an robo call on her behalf. jan brew we are the immigration bill that signed into law has become influential in republican primaries outside of arizona. very fascinating to watch. we'll see how long that lasts. staying with the ballttle, linking carnahan to the president's agenda directly. a new poll suggests we may be seeing that ad like the first one. blunt leads in there race buoyed by the fact that the president's job rating in missouri, the swing state he lost by a few thousand votes, sitting at 34%. that's how many -- that's the percentage of voters that approve of how the president handling the job. 57% disapprove. among independents, approval number lower at 27%. blunt had plenty of baggage. seven terms in washington. and a member of the republican leadership, republican former number go in the house. we'll see. carnahan trying to use that against him to stress independence. i have to tell you, savannah, six-point lead in the swing state of missouri is a big lead. sometimes other states called narrow. in this case, this is a commanding lead if you would for blunt when you never see races like this get even that kind of spread. usually always one or two-point races.

    >> all right. thanks, chuck.

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