PORTLAND -- The Multnomah County Republican Party has issued an apology for statements made about a controversial gun raffle and the celebration of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

The GOP announced Jan. 14 that it would raffle off an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, 'or handgun of the winner's choice' at its annual Lincoln Day Dinner, which also honors MLK. A GOP spokeswoman said the intention was to raise money, celebrate their member's gun rights and honor the lives of Republicans Lincoln and MLK.

More: GOP to raffle gun to celebrate Lincoln, MLK

On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the county party issued a statement that read, in part:

In our enthusiasm for celebrating Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Constitution, our Multnomah Republican Party issued a press release that was unfortunately easily misunderstood. The GOP stands for individual liberty, lower taxes, smaller government and individual responsibility. We apologize if people were hurt by the message being marred by insufficient wording and/or cynical misinterpretations by those who disagree with us politically. We will certainly endeavor to communicate more clearly in the future, and learn and grow from this experience.

Read the full statement here

The announcement led to national headlines that criticized the events for giving away a gun used in recent school shootings and connecting it with two assassinated political figures.

The party later corrected their initial statement and said the raffle and the dinner were not connected.

The Oregonian reported Jan. 17 that Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Portland refused to host the Lincoln Day dinner, scheduled for Feb. 15.

More: Portland church won't host GOP event

The party said it is working on securing a new venue.

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