Republican candidate Gabriel E. Gomez ignited controversy on Thursday by calling his  Democratic opponent for US Senate, a sitting congressman, “pond scum,” in an interview with a National Public Radio reporter on Thursday.

Asked whether his candidate regretted his remarks, spokesman Will Ritter recounted that Gomez not only didn’t regret it, but went further in a television interview Thursday evening:

“I was surprised at the controversy,” Ritter recounted Gomez saying. “Pond scum currently has a higher approval rating than Congress.”

Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, has been emphasizing the bruises he is getting in his first statewide campaign, to claim his Democratic opponent, US Representative Edward J. Markey, is waging a dirty campaign. Meanwhile, Gomez’s own claims are also harsh, as he bats back Markey’s negative advertising with increasingly vitriolic language.

The video that spurred the “pond scum” reference was Markey’s Web ad showing Gomez on a split screen with Osama bin Laden.

Here’s the full quote:

You know, I’ve got four young kids, and they’ve got to sit there and they gotta see an ad with their dad, who served honorably — talk to anybody I served with, whether as a pilot or as a SEAL or anybody I’ve worked with — and for him to be as dirty and low, pond scum, to put me up against bin Laden, he’s gotta be called what he is.