August 31st, 2008
08:06 PM ET
6 years ago

Dem apologizes for joking about hurricane

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A YouTube video shows Fowler joking about Gustav.
A YouTube video shows Fowler joking about Gustav.

(CNN) - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler apologized Sunday for recently joking Hurricane Gustav's expected landfall on the same day as the opening of the Republican National Convention suggested God was on the Democrats' side.

A YouTube video of the comments posted by the conservative blog RedState.org and showed Fowler joking with South Carolina Rep. John Spratt about the timing of the hurricane while on a flight from the Democratic National Convention back to South Carolina. The person who filmed the conversation is not identified.

“The hurricane is going to hit New Orleans about the time they start. The timing is, at least it appears now, it will be there Monday. That just demonstrates God is on our side,” Fowler said, while laughing. Fowler also told Spratt that “everything’s cool.”

Speaking to the Associated Press Sunday, Fowler said his comments were intended to make light of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's remark that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was God's punishment for abortion and homosexuality.

On Sunday, Fowler told The Associated Press that he was making fun of comments made by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said the attacks were God's punishment for abortion, homosexuality and other sins.

"I don't believe in a God that's vengeful," Fowler said. "I believe in a God that's compassionate."

"This is a point of national concern. I think everybody of good will has great empathy and sympathy for people in New Orleans," Fowler also said. "Most religious people are praying for people in New Orleans. There is no political connotation to this whatsoever. This was just poking fun at Jerry Falwell and the nonsensical thing he had said several years ago."

South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson sharply criticized Fowler's comments, saying, “The outrageous behavior of two of the Obama campaign's highest profile supporters in the south is despicable, a cynical polarization of life and death. I call on Barack Obama to immediately denounce Fowler and Spratt and demand sincere apologies from these members of the Democratic leadership.”


Filed under: Extra • Uncategorized
soundoff (264 Responses)
  1. Jon

    Why is Obama being held responsible for what these people said?Are the Republicans going to denounce the comments from their right-wing supporters saying that hurricanes are "wiping away" sin?

    August 31, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Reid

    It is pretty funny though, you have to admit. Especially after Dobson asked his followers to pray for rain during Obama's speech. I miss the days when McCain would denounce them as agents of intolerance, rather than kissing up to religious nutjobs.

    August 31, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. Mercedes

    Well wasn't a republican that had a video out there asking for republicans to go out and pray for it to rain on Thursday the day that Obama was suppose to have his speech. I wonder who was behind that camera that film. Oh yeah, and spy or a backstabbing democrate. I can't wait until some video come out of another dumb remark from the republic side.

    August 31, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  4. kay

    Oh, good grief. Get a life. It's a sorry day for free speach when a person has to explain every off hand remark that they make. And when people try to blow up a comment made by one person in a personal conversation to represent a party or a nation.

    August 31, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. White and Black support for Obama

    This is election period, joke of such has no place in the situation.

    Any DNC or GOP member comment will be tied to their candidate, but this man is not working for Obama and Obama will not condon such comment.

    I know the GOP was praying for the rain to spoil Obama convention, DNC members should live it to their ignorance.

    God will protect everyone and their properties.

    August 31, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. Hurricane Supporter

    It was a very stupid comment made by one person. This has nothing to do with either candidate or even a party- both of which have reacted graciously to the impending hurricane.

    August 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. anonymous heyill

    fowler is sorry he got caught. My dad, from the old country, thaught me to think before I say something. Don't go around apoligizing. If one is not ready to back it up, face up to it, one should not say it. This is a purported politician. Weasel is what he is. That is an ugly thing to voice, esp. if you're a politician. Not that I have a very high approval for congress, the dems are the worst. I agree completely with 'A House Divided'. – Done !

    August 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  8. Jack Carlson

    It takes all kinds, and we have seen them at Conventions.
    Jack CArlson
    Seattle WA

    August 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Sue W.

    What a moronic comment. Unfortunately, it is no different from other stupid comments made from the republican side too. Isn't anyone good ever going to run for office.

    Of course, if he runs again I am sure he will get elected again.

    And so it goes...

    August 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  10. RJ

    Do you "sick" psychopathic people REALLY think you have a direct pipeline to the Almighty - where "he/she" punishes the Republicans?

    How utterly, utterly SCARY!

    Just more reason to vote for REALITY rather than SICK PSYCHOPATHY: McCain/Palin - living in the REAL world!

    August 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  11. Eileen

    South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson sharply criticized Fowler's comments, saying, “The outrageous behavior of two of the Obama campaign's highest profile supporters in the south is despicable, a cynical polarization of life and death. I call on Barack Obama to immediately denounce Fowler and Spratt and demand sincere apologies from these members of the Democratic leadership.”

    Filed under: Uncategorized

    I also find this despicable.....what type of man is he ????????????

    August 31, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. Peter (CA)

    Dumb comment...now let's get over it.

    Remember, McCain was eating birthday cake on the tarmac in Phoenix while Katrina was destroying New Orleans.

    House divided......you're kidding right? After all of the hate the Republicans have spewed on Democrats since Reagan???
    Please get some perspective.

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  13. Gary

    It is often in the private moments that one's character is best revealed. Don Fowler's character has been revealed. He should be denounced by Obama promptly and stripped of any responsibilities.
    And Fowler's response? He blamed the right wing nut case who taped it. He and Howard Dean are a pair, aren't they??

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  14. Brad

    What a fool.

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. Rob

    It was in poor taste yes – but this has nothing to do with Obama so stop trying to spin it that way. If we want to call out party officials making bad jokes, what about Dick Cheney's joke about people from West Virginia? So people on BOTH sides make stupid jokes.

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  16. Alyce

    So are we even now?
    The Republican's ask the congregation to pray for rain on the Dem Convention.
    This makes me SICK.
    Both parties disgust me. People's lives are on the line here.
    CNN you should be taken to task for even reporting stuff like this.
    Politics has no place in ANY OF THIS.

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  17. Trasa, Texas

    I hate that he made those remarks, but I know truthfully he ain't the only one thinking that, but at time like this, you need to keep your mouth closed and truly have some sincerity. Also, stop having Obama condemn everything someone else in the party says, we have a responsibility to ourselves and what we say. He can't control what everyone says. That even goes for McBush if his surrogates says something. Need to judge the man, so unless Obama/Biden or McBush/Palin is saying this, then I wouldn't put much thought in it. It's affortunate and I'm sure deep down he is sincere when it comes to the cititzens of New Orleans but just was making a point that how convient it fell on the time fram of Katrina and the same spot.

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  18. Drew

    Good Lord, must Republicans pounce on everything some Democrat says somewhere and make it a strained connection to Obama? And I thought the Republicans were big on "personal responsibility?" So let the guy who said it take responsibility and make his apologies. It's not Obama's job to personally apologize for the gaffes of a guy simply becaues he's of the same party. Quit with the politickin' already!

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. William Brashier

    It may be in "poor taste."
    But it is something to think about!

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  20. Keep It Real America!!

    I am always amazed about how inexplicably dumb some public officials can be when making remarks. One person noted that certain observations should be left to the bloggers. No public official need comment on something so obvious. Trust me, the irony of Gustav's timing did not go without recognition.

    Also, blaming Obama for what Fowler said makes about as much sense as Blaming McCain for neo-Nazi racist acts and rhetoric (plenty of neo-Natzis support McCain). Don't try to attribute the actions of one individual to that of another. There is not correlation.

    Keep it Real, not asinine.

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. Kyle in San Diego

    The man apologized. It really isn't that serious at all. Why do people like to make EVERYTHING political, and/or try to link EVERYTHING to the candidate. Obama's people have said dumb stuff, and so have McCain's. Truth be told, there is plenty of irony surrounding Gustav. For example, many GOP members were praying for rain during Obama's open stadium speech; how ironic is it that a hurricane is now disrupting the Republican Convention. Again, these are simply observations and do not insult or belittle the people that are being directly affected. My heart and prayers go out to all in Gustav's path.

    August 31, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  22. spencer

    Gee Whiz. Isn't this the "Biblical" rain that the Rev. Dobson was praying for to fall on Senator Obama's speech? I guess God is a Democrat who doesn't like low-lifes like Dobson jerking him around.

    August 31, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  23. Lon Whitty

    The blame only goes to the person who said it. To use this against Obama is stupid.

    August 31, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  24. Robert Bushman

    The storm is an act of nature and the manner in which the Republican party and in particular John McCain handles this in conjunction with the convention will determine in large measure the success of the convention with the nation at large both Democrat and Republican. From my view at this early stage I recognize McCain at his best. I can expect and therefore not surprised by this talk from a person such as Michael Moore but from a sitting congressional representative is reprehensible and then to couch it in terms of 9/11 is so transparently false as to be immediately dismissed.

    August 31, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  25. TN for Obama

    Laughing at the timing – not at the people suffering.

    Get a life, CNN, and GOP (in bed with each other)

    August 31, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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