HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ed Rendell apologized yesterday for his comments, picked up by an open microphone, that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is a good choice for Homeland Security secretary because she "has no family" and the job requires someone who has "no life."
The remarks, which he made while standing at a lectern Tuesday at a meeting of the National Governors Association, were construed by some as sexist.
Mr. Rendell said Ms. Napolitano would be ideal for the Homeland Security post. "Because for that job, you have to have no life," he said. "Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it."
Yesterday, the governor said he "didn't mean it the wrong way" and called Ms. Napolitano "one of the best governors in the country."
"If anybody out there was offended, I apologize," he said. "But you could say the exact same thing to me, about me."
Mr. Rendell, who is married to a federal judge and has an adult son, regularly performs gubernatorial duties on weekends and holidays, and has a reputation for making late-night work-related phone calls to his staff.
Ms. Napolitano, a second-term governor, former state attorney general and former U.S. attorney, has never been married and has no children.
Her spokeswoman, Jeanine L'Ecuyer, said the Arizona governor considers Mr. Rendell a good friend.
"She said she really appreciates Gov. Rendell's confidence in her and the confidence of the president-elect," Ms. L'Ecuyer said.
The spokeswoman deflected questions about whether the comment was sexist.
"There's a lot of people weighing in on that. We'll leave it to you guys to do that," she said.
Mr. Rendell said that former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who became the first Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush, "told me you have to live that job every minute."