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DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper acknowledged that he did indeed speak with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during last year’s protracted political battle over gun control legislation, something he appeared to deny while addressing a group of Colorado sheriffs on Friday.

During a meeting Friday in Aspen with a number of sheriffs, a majority of which strongly oppose the new gun laws, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke asked Hickenlooper why he didn’t listen to the state’s top law enforcement officers as much as he did to Bloomberg.

“Well, lets, let’s stick to the facts,” Hickenlooper responded in a video clip of the exchange. “I never talked to Mayor Bloomberg. I…Again, that’s been out in the press and all this stuff.  Just for the record.  You know, I met Mayor Bloomberg when I was a Mayor, and I know him, uh, I think he’s a pretty good Mayor.”

Complete Colorado, which first reported the governor’s statement, had already obtained phone records from Hickenlooper’s cell phone showing that he did speak with Bloomberg last year.

Additionally, the conservative website Revealing Politics posted edited video of the exchange.

On Monday afternoon, Hickenlooper’s office acknowledged that the governor spoke carelessly.

“The governor often jokes about his ability to put his foot in his mouth, because he does,” said Eric Brown, the governor’s spokesman. “It is well established that Gov. Hickenlooper spoke with Mayor Bloomberg, as well as NRA President Keene and many other stakeholders in the gun safety debate. In fact, the governor released phone records on this matter.

“When the governor told an audience of sheriffs that he had not talked to Bloomberg, the governor was attempting to convey he never had a conversation with Bloomberg that influenced the decision he made. In no way did the governor intend to mislead the sheriffs or anyone else.”

Hickenlooper is currently on a three-day economic development trip to Mexico.

The four Republicans vying to challenge him this fall are in the final stretch of a primary election and Hickenlooper’s comments are offering them an opportunity to rally the conservative base.

Bob Beauprez, for one, also slammed Hickenlooper for reportedly telling the sheriffs that he regrets passing the gun bills because of the uproar they caused.

“It’s unbelievable that this governor would steal the Liberty of Coloradans and then apologize – not for the taking – but the outpouring of anger from both sheriffs and law-abiding Coloradans,” said Bob Beauprez. “This is a governor without leadership or principle. He decides to restrict the rights of Coloradans and months later apologizes for not doing his homework.”

Scott Gessler turned the flare-up into a fundraising pitch that begun thusly:

“John Hickenlooper has a complete lack of respect for the majority of Coloradans and our Colorado County Sheriffs.

“Hickenlooper met with our County Sheriffs and as our Sheriffs were asking him why he didn’t ask the opinions of any of them before forcing through his gun grabbing legislation, Hickenlooper responded to Larimer County Sheriff and Gessler supporter Justin Smith by saying, ‘How many apologies do you want? What the F@%#?'”

According to Brown, Gessler is quoting Hickenlooper correctly but without context; he’d been asked the same question by the sheriffs multiple times and the f-bomb reportedly drew laughter from the room, Brown said.

“It was a lighter moment, not the angry tirade it’s being portrayed as,” Brown said.