Former Republican Senate nominee Gabriel E. Gomez apologized Monday after lashing out at two conservative activists and likening them to members of the Ku Klux Klan.
"Over the weekend, I regrettably used inappropriate language to share my disagreement with some with whom I disagree on specific social and policy-related issues," he wrote. ". . . I failed to live up to the standard of discourse every leader should strive for."
Gomez posted the apology Monday afternoon, after his criticism of two conservative activists caused a firestorm on social media.
"The level of ignorance and intolerance exhibited by them and their small 'Klan' are an embarrassment to our civil society. Merry Christmas," he wrote on Facebook over the weekend.
Gomez subsequently took down the Facebook post, but defended his words, saying he did not regret writing them.
He insisted his "Klan" reference was "obviously not" referring to the Ku Klux Klan.
"If I wanted to refer to the Ku Klux Klan, I would have just said KKK," he argued Monday in an interview with the Globe.
Asked why he took down the post if he did not regret putting it online, Gomez said, "I figured, who knows what these guys were going to do with it."
Gomez, who lost this year's US Senate special election by 10 points to Edward J. Markey, targeted his weekend writing at Rob Eno, the publisher of Red Mass Group, a conservative blog, and Christopher Pinto, a Worcester Republican activist.
Gomez said Monday that his comment was not prompted by any one specific article or piece, but rather was a general response to Red Mass Group, as well as to activists questioning whether he, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker, and former senator Scott Brown, are real Republicans.
Part of what prompted his post, Gomez said, were protests against Brown in New Hampshire Thursday, when more than 100 gun rights advocates gathered to oppose the former senator, who said in December 2012 that he supported a federal ban on assault weapons.
Gomez said he would decide on any future runs for political office in the new year. On Monday, he criticized Red Mass Group for its views on issues from "immigration reform to gay marriage to how to deal the economy and everything — it's just not productive."
"They have views that are shared by probably a dozen people," Gomez said.
Gomez said he did not regularly read the blog, but people forward its posts to him.
Eno said in an e-mail that he appreciated Gomez's apology, but added that it "is a little puzzling coming a few hours after he vigorously defended his characterization on both the radio and to The Boston Globe."
"I'm still not sure exactly what policy positions I have taken that he is trying to characterize," Eno said. "I look forward to putting this whole situation behind me."
Eno noted that he and Pinto had worked to help Gomez in his run against Markey.
The original Facebook post that Gomez later removed read as follows: "I thank God everyday for people like Chris Pinto and Rob Eno because they serve as perfect examples for my kids of who and what not be when they grow up. . . . The level of ignorance and intolerance exhibited by them and their small 'Klan' are an embarrassment to our civil society. Merry Christmas."
This not the first time Gomez has faced controversy for heated rhetoric.
In an interview with a National Public Radio reporter in May, Gomez called Markey "dirty and low — pond scum" for running a Web video that juxtaposed an image of Gomez with a picture of Osama bin Laden.
Gomez was criticized for that comment and, in a July interview, he said he would have done “that one differently.”