“I regret using that phrase,” which is often used against black people to suggest they are subservient to white people, Khan told ITV news. “I was wrong and I regret it.”
Despite the attacks, Khan appears on course to become the next occupant of City Hall, which has responsibility for transport, policing, housing and promoting economic development in the British capital.
An Opinium survey for the Evening Standard newspaper put him on 35 percent compared to 26 percent for Goldsmith. His lead lengthened once second preference votes were taken into account, to 57 percent against Goldsmith’s 43 percent.
A second poll, by ComRes for LBC radio and ITV London news, put Khan and Goldsmith on 45 percent and 36 percent, moving to 56 percent and 44 percent on second preferences.
Khan, 45, grew up in social housing and worked as a human rights lawyer before rising to be a government minister — a back story that contrasts sharply with his rival.
Goldsmith, 41, is the son of late tycoon financier James Goldsmith, and an environmentalist and Conservative lawmaker who Labour has sought to portray as out of touch.
Khan told AFP: “I’m a Londoner, I’m British, I’m of Islamic faith, of course I am a proud Muslim. I’m of Asian origin, of Pakistani heritage. I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I’m a long-suffering Liverpool fan. I’m all these things.
“But the great thing about this city is you can be a Londoner of any faith or none and we don’t simply tolerate each other, we respect, we embrace and we celebrate each other. That’s one of the great things about London.”