WASHINGTON — The chairman of an organization of GOP conservatives has jokingly alluded to female members of the group as “eye candy.”

North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, who heads the Republican Study Committee, said at a Tuesday news conference that the group has almost 160 men and women and added that “if it wasn’t sexist, I’d say RSC ‘eye candy.'”

Standing next to Walker at the time was 41-year-old Rep. Mia Love of Utah, the only Republican African-American woman in Congress.

After the event, Walker said in a statement: “During a press event today, I made a flippant remark meant to be light-hearted but fell short. I’m proud of the women who serve in our RSC leadership.”