Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for joking that Mahatma Gandhi used to run a gas station in St. Louis, saying it was "a lame attempt at humor.''
The New York Democrat made the remark at a fund-raiser Saturday. During an event here for Senate candidate Nancy Farmer, Clinton introduced a quote from Gandhi by saying, "He ran a gas station down in St. Louis.''
After laughter from many in the crowd of at least 200 subsided, the former first lady continued, "No, Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader of the 20th century.'' In a nod to Farmer's underdog status against Republican Sen. Kit Bond, Clinton quoted the Indian independence leader as saying: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.''
The director of a U.S. center devoted to Gandhi's teachings said the remarks amounted to stereotyping and were insensitive.
After being approached by The Associated Press to clarify the remarks, Clinton suggested in a statement late Monday that she never meant to fuel the stereotype -- often used as a comedic punch line -- that certain ethnic groups run America's gas stations.