Republican congressional candidate Phil Oliva in the wake of the Dallas police shooting criticized President Obama on Twitter earlier Friday for having “sowed these seeds of racial division.”

The tweet led to a back and forth between Oliva, a first-time candidate for office who won a Republican primary last month for the 18th congressional district, and the man he hopes to unseat this fall.

“Obama sowed these seeds of racial division starting in ’08 for political gain,” he posted. “Now the country is reaping a nightmare. #Dallas.”

The post, screen grabbed by his Democratic incumbent opponent Sean Patrick Maloney, was deleted.

Maloney, a two-term lawmaker who represents a battleground Hudson Valley congressional district, blasted Oliva’s remarks.

“As dad of interracial family am deeply offended by @phil_oliva blaming @POTUS 4 #Dallas,” Maloney wrote in a post. “Racist & needs explanation”

Oliva responded on Twitter to Maloney acknowledging the statement was a wrong one to make.

“Today not the day for pointing fingers. It was wrong. Took down tweet. Today is day for prayer for families affected & our nation,” he wrote.

Maloney in a follow-up tweet wrote back: “Not just timing @phil_oliva – you said #Dallas is Obama’s fault. Disturbing 1st instinct to stoke racism not honor victims/call for unity”

In a statement sent to Capital Tonight and State of Politics, Oliva reiterated that Obama “shares in the blame” for ongoing racial division during his presidency. But at the same time, he said the tweet was deleted because it’s time to “heal as a nation” following the deaths of the five police officers in Dallas.

And he knocked Maloney for the ongoing controversy surrounding a fired campaign “tracker” who was caught outside the Oliva family home.

Here’s the full statement:

“Like millions of Americans I hoped for the ‘post-racial’ society that President Obama promised in 2008. Sadly, today we have so much racial division, and I believe the President, as the leader of our nation, shares in the blame for that. But today is a day for mourning the murdered police officers, not a time to point fingers; that’s why I removed the tweet. We need to heal as a nation. I’m more than happy to debate this issue with Sean Patrick Maloney and other issues, including his continued failure to turn over the voyeur tapes that his now fired ‘tracker’ may have taken of my wife and children. It’s been nearly three weeks since he promised to hand over the tapes to my wife and I and we still have yet to receive them. So instead of hiding behind trackers and tweets, I hope Sean will agree to a series of public debates.”