That's a perfect example of the phenomenon that's being called the "dog whistle". Coded language. They say it without really saying it, but their target audience understands. Just like dude the other day with the hot branding iron on the President's ass. You said it and you meant exactly what people think you meant.
You could almost respect them if they just said how they really feel and left it alone instead of the back pedalling and non apologies. Almost.