Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts says he was "joking" when he said "Thank God" Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren didn't take her clothes off to pay for college.
Brown told reporters Friday he was responding to a "wisecrack" from Warren about a decision he made to pay for school.
During a Democratic primary debate Tuesday, Warren said she kept her "clothes on" when asked how she paid for college. The questioner had mentioned Brown's decision to pose nude for Cosmopolitan magazine as a law student.
Brown laughed during a radio interview Thursday and said "Thank God" when asked about Warren's comment.
Democrats say Brown's remark was demeaning to women. Brown says he and Warren were joking.
Democrats hope to oust Brown from the Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy.
Here's more on the fallout from Brown's remarks:
Brown's office released statements from two female Republican U.S. Senators in support of him. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in a statement published in Politico, "It's inappropriate to make light of his personal circumstances, or to disparage or belittle him for the decisions he made to improve his life. Scott is one of the best guys to work with in the Senate, and I am proud to call him my colleague."
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said, "It's wrong to mock anyone who had to make hard choices to overcome tough obstacles." She added, "His story is no different than millions of Americans who are doing everything they can to make ends meet."
Brown's campaign manager, Jim Barnett, wrote in an e-mail, "It's elitist of Professor Warren to look down at the decisions Scott Brown made to put himself through college and rise above the circumstances of his life. Scott has fought and scraped for everything he's got."
Brown, who won a special election in 2010, remains locked in the polls with Warren.