Mr. Jackson, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, has been a supporter of Mr. Obama. He has played no formal role in the campaign, but tensions have occasionally flared behind the scenes with Mr. Jackson, who is known for his outspokenness and his penchant for drawing attention to himself.
Mr. Obama’s candidacy has served as an example of a generational and stylistic shift in black political leadership in America. The remarks drew an unusually stern rebuke from Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., Democrat of Illinois, who also serves as a national co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.
“Reverend Jackson is my dad, and I’ll always love him,” the congressman said Wednesday evening in a statement. He added, “I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”
In a statement issued by the campaign, Mr. Obama accepted the apology from Mr. Jackson. But a spokesman said Mr. Obama would not refrain from calling upon fathers to take greater responsibility and participate in their children’s lives.
Former Sen. Phil Gramm, a top economic adviser to presumptive GOP nominee John McCain, referred to the economic slowdown as “a mental recession” and called the United States “a nation of whiners.”
The comments, in an interview with The Washington Times, could hurt the campaign’s efforts to convince working-class Americans that McCain feels their pain.