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Byrd apologizes for using racial epithet in interview

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., apologized for his use of a racial epithet in an interview broadcast Sunday.

Asked about race relations today, the 83-year-old Byrd said in the interview taped Friday with "Fox News Sunday" that they are "much, much better than they've ever been in my lifetime. I think we talk about race too much. I think those problems are largely behind us."

He continued: "I think we try to have good will. My old mom told me, 'Robert, you can't go to heaven if you hate anybody.' We practice that. There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I'm going to use that word.

"We just need to work together to make our country a better country, and I'd just as soon quit talking about it so much."

The interviewer, Tony Snow, said that Byrd's office later issued an apology.