NBC News and news services
updated 7/27/2004 9:10:35 AM ET 2004-07-27T13:10:35

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, said Tuesday she didn't regret having told a journalist to "shove it," telling NBC News that the man had misrepresented what she had said and was pestering her.

Asked if she had any regrets, Heinz Kerry said, "No, I don't."

"I say what I believe," she added on NBC's "Today" show. "I really wanted him to back off ... and so I defended myself, wouldn't you?"

The incident came minutes after she urged her home-state delegates to the Democratic National Convention to restore a more civil tone to American politics.

“We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics,” she told her fellow Pennsylvanians on Sunday night at a Massachusetts Statehouse reception. Video:

Minutes later, Colin McNickle, the editorial page editor of the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, questioned her on what she meant by the term “un-American,” according to a videotape of the encounter recorded by Pittsburgh television station WTAE.

Heinz Kerry said she was upset that McNickle referred to her as saying "un-American activities" when she had said "un-American traits."

In the video of the incident, Heinz Kerry says “I didn’t say that” several times to McNickle. She then turned to confer with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and others. When she faced McNickle again a short time later, he continued to question her, and she replied, “You said something I didn’t say. Now shove it.”

A spokeswoman for Heinz Kerry later said, “This was sheer frustration aimed at a right-wing rag that has consistently and purposely misrepresented the facts in reporting on Mrs. Kerry and her family.”

Video: Asked about the exchange on CNN’s “American Morning,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday, “A lot of Americans are going to say, ’Good for you, you go, girl,’ and that’s certainly how I feel about it.”

Vice President Dick Cheney recently came under criticism for using a four-letter obscenity in an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on the Senate floor. He later was unapologetic about the remark, saying: “I felt better after I said it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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