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Welsh Offended by Clinton Remark; Quick White House Apology

September 22, 1995 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Gov. Pete Wilson did it this summer and President Clinton made the same mistake Friday: Americans of Welsh descent were furious that the president used the phrase ``welsh on your debts.″

Officials at a Welsh-American organization said phones haven’t stopped ringing since Clinton made the remark at an airport news conference in Santa Monica.

``It’s outrageous that the president of the United States would use this slur in a statement he knows would be reported and would be legitimized throughout the country,″ said Rees Lloyd, lawyer for Glendale-based Twm Sion Cati-Welsh-American Legal Defense, Education & Development Fund.

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Clinton made the comment while warning that failure to raise the federal debt ceiling would keep the United States from paying its bills.

``It is basically saying you’re going to be a piker and welsh on your debts and the United States has never done that,″ Clinton said. ``The United States is a good citizen. We don’t welsh on our debts.″

White House spokeswoman Ginny Terzano was quick to apologize.

``There was never any intention to use this as an ethnic slur and we apologize to anyone who may be offended,″ she said. ``The president simply used this word to point out that we must not fail deliberately to meet our obligations or debts.″

Wilson made the same mistake this summer, when he accused Assembly Democratic Leader Willie Brown of ``welshing on his agreement″ on a budget matter. He sent a letter of apology to those of Welsh descent.