Stateside

“We don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion”

We have already had a little fun poking here this week at US electioneering, but this goes far beyond that as racial slurs are slung around in the heated world of South Carolina politics, which has already had its share of recent headlines.

Yesterday South Carolina Republican State Senator Jake Knotts referred to Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Nikki Haley as a “raghead” and referred to President Obama in the same manner.

Knotts said: “We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.”

He made the comments during an interview for in Columbia, South Carolina, online political talk show “Pub Politics”.

Knotts later apologised for the racist slur and said the remarks about Obama and state Republican Nikki Haley were meant as a “joke”.

In a statement quoted on the Huffington Post, Knotts, said:  “If it had been recorded, the public would be able to hear firsthand that my ‘raghead’ comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest. Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It’s like local political version of Saturday Night Live, which is actually where the joke came from.”

Some joke. Free wheeling or otherwise. Sounds more like Knotts chose his words. Haley is an American of Indian descent. Her parents are Indian Punjabi Sikh immigrants from Amritsar although Haley is now a practicing Methodist. Knotts made the comment after discussing her Sikh background, according to Phil Bailey, a co-host of the show and the communications director for the South Carolina Senate Democratic Caucus.

The focus on Haley has been unremitting as her campaign has picked-up speed. She is also being targeted by a smear. Blogger and former Haley aide, Will Folks, alleges she had an affair with him. Haley has denied it and said if the rumours were proven she would resign. He has released a bunch of phone records. As you do.

The primary is June 8 and recent polls have shown Haley with a double-digit lead over Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. She was the underdog at one stage, but not any more.

She partly has governor Mark Sanford to thank for that. His affiar with an Argentine lover was splashed by The State newspaper and Haley won the support of Jenny Sanford – the former wife of Mark Sanford – and Sarah Palin.

State Republican Party Chairwoman Karen Floyd called on Knotts to apologize “so that we can put this unfortunate incident behind us.”

“The South Carolina Republican Party strongly condemns any use of racial or religious slurs,” Floyd said in an e-mail statement Thursday night quoted by AP.

In the UK, I’m fairly sure (I certainly hope) this would be a resignation issue, but that’s not the case in South Carolina. How do you get away with that?

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