PATCHOGUE - Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) on Tuesday responded to criticism stemming from a controversial comment he made about President Barack Obama.
The Long Island congressman appeared on CNN to comment on presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's perceived racist remarks about an Indiana judge's Mexican heritage.
"You can easily argue the president of the United States is a racist with his policies and his rhetoric," Zeldin said toward the end of the interview.
He quickly clarified that he meant everyone, including elected officials, can do better with racist rhetoric and policy.
"I abhor racism in any form and it has no place in our country," Zeldin said in a statement released by his office Tuesday. "I apologize to anyone who interpreted my comments as calling the President racist. I am not calling the President racist."
News 12 spoke with residents living within Zeldin's district. Some said they were not offended by the comments.
While his constituents stood behind him, others online were not so kind. Following the interview on CNN, Zeldin was via Twitter called a "Clueless Congressman" and "Not fit for the 1st District."
Some residents in Patchogue said the negative comments prove the point Zeldin was trying to make.