(CNN) - South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, under fire for drawing a comparison between needy people and "stray animals," said Monday that he regrets his choice of words.
In a phone interview with CNN, Bauer, a Republican candidate for governor, said, "I wish I had used a different metaphor." Bauer told an audience Friday that people receiving government assistance are like "stray animals" because "they breed" and "don't know any better."
"I never intended to tie people to animals," he said, before opting for a kinder animal metaphor: "If you have a cat, if you take it in your house and feed it and love it, what happens when you go out of town?"
Noting that he has raised money for a group that protects animals, Bauer also said he is "not against animals."
But Bauer said he is committed to finding ways to end the "culture of dependency" created by government assistance. He suggested that people on welfare undergo drug testing or be mandated to attend parent-teacher conferences. Efforts at self-improvement, such as job-training or earning a high school equivalency degree, should be rewarded.
Otherwise, he argued, people will just sit at home waiting for a government check. He called that a "systemic problem."
"If some of these people who are currently on welfare were put to work you wouldn't have an immigration problem," he said. "The welfare system is so entrenched that nobody wants to do manual labor jobs."
Asked about criticism from his political opponents, Bauer argued that many voters in South Carolina agree with him. He said he is only telling hard truths that have been swept under the rug for decades and called for a "mature discussion" about welfare in South Carolina. He said he has spoken about the issue for months, and not once has a voter objected.
"That's part of being a leader," he said. "Politicians stand up and give eloquent speeches that make you feel good, but they don't do anything about it." Referencing President Obama, Bauer said: "That's why we have some of the problems we have in this country today."
Bauer has also been rumored to have considered switching races to run for Congress in South Carolina's first congressional district, a seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Brown. "I am not running for Henry Brown's seat," he said.
You must love those self-inflicted gunshot wounds, don't you, LT Gov Bauer?
I would LOVE to see what the unemplyment rate in SC is RIGHT NOW, and then compare how many peolpe there are seeking goverment asistance as compared with the REST of the country!
When are goign to realize that it was YOUR PARTY, the Republican Party , who are responsible for the CURRENT MESS that we are in RIGHT NOW?!?
I don't agree with his choice of words, but he has a point. Helping those in need & the less fortunate should be the work of the church not the work of the government. Unfortunately, way too many church organizations assist there members more than their own community.
What is with it in South Carolina? Must be something in the drinking water – just one crazy nut after another.
Is he serious – "not against anminals – but he is against people, for whatever reason that receive public assistance. He needs to learn – and do it quickly – how to frame and clarify his statments. Don't if his parents are still alive, but just what if they need to apply? They are surely past the humping stage!
Wow. Talk about lack of perspective, prejudice, and stereotyping. Poor people aren't even people? And convservatives call Obama arrogant.
Your mother should of drowned you when you was a pup.,
Oops, Andre Bauer just divulged the unspoken sentiment of the GOP - that poor people are like animals.
Correction, he didn't mean to belittle animals! –At least they don't complain about not having health care or jobs...
It is easy to regret words, but a way of thinking is harder to pull back and regret. You gotta be who you are, even if you say you "regret your word choice".
Yes you did! You're a Southern Republican, what else do Southern Republicans say - if not sticking their foot in their mouths?
You probably think the nation would be better off if the Segregationist Party had won the White House too.
Guess what Bauer. Most "animals" as you say, have jobs. They just earn minimum wage, which as far below the poverty line as it has ever been. They work at places like Wal-Mart, who do not pay living wages and do not offer health benefits, which turns thousands of people to Medicaid. If we are going to make the behaviorist argument, maybe its time to look at the behavior of the private sector and de-regulated government policies that benefit corporations at the expense of others.
This guy sounds like he's apologizing to the animals not to the people he's insulted. I would like to know what welfare system he's talking about as welfare has been cut back so drastically since the Clinton years only people with extreme problems remain dependent on the government. Also the large scale de-industrialization of the Reagan-Bush years and tax cuts for the rich have had a long term destructive impact on the standard of living and the US economy. Those are two of the biggest culprits behind today's economic problems.
He did not do an injustice to animals, but to people. The republicans never have compassion for anybody. Scary!
I never thought he was against animals. He just thinks that poor people are sub-human.
This is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans care about themselves, money and the big corporations and try to dupe everyone else. Vote Democrat.
This moron is toast as he should be. If you say something like this its not that you mispoke, its because you think these types of things in your head and sometimes they come out. He is an idiot.
Having said that, I know that Al Sharpton will come out to stand behind this guy like he did for Harry Reid when he "Misspoke" about Obama having light skin and no "Negro dialect" when he didn't need one.
I'm waiting for the Press conference.
He's worried about being seen as "anti-animal"?
That's his concern?
What about his contempt for humanity, particularly the less fortunate?
If we're going to start requiring drug tests and what not so that the unfortunate among us are not "abusing the system", perhaps we should require tax audits, legal reviews and drug tests for those business owners who want a government contract job, industrial subsidy, corporate tax break/incentive or otherwise. It only seems fair that one type of welfare be held to the same standard as another.
If you want to have a mature discussion about solving problems I'm all for it, but don't tell me that calling a poor person an overbred stray cat is the way to go about doing it.
I think by now most people realize this is the way the vast majority of Repukes think. However, very few of them will admit it. Hate is the creed they live by. The poor, minorities, unwed mothers, people that need help, these and many more are the targets of the party of NO.
Give the guy a break! His metaphor is spot on. We need a serious overhaul of the public aid programs in this country. I for one am sick and tired of having my not so hard earned dollars being "donated" to those too lazy to work. END WELFARE NOW!!!
he's not against animals, just people. Huh, this is how Christians see fellow human beings.....
If Dirty Harry Reid gets a pass for his "negro dialect" comment & if Bill Clinton gets a pass for saying Obama would be getting our coffee a few yrs ago, then this a non-issue.
But I bet u libs cannot help showing how hypocritical you all are!!! Go ahead and take the bait!!!
To hell with animals, he is insulting minorities, specifically blacks. The republican party has always associated blacks with welfare, even though there has always been more whites recipients than blacks. The year is 2010, and we are way past idiots like this. Please keep this racist in SC!
There must be something in the water in South Carolina.
Not nearly as eloquent a speaker as Obama, but most people get the idea. Dependence on government assistance needs to be corrected. Those that can work, should work.
Those that can' work (different from don't want to work) can get help from family, friends, charitable organizations and churches and the government.
He may regret the metaphor but it is telling. This is typical of the average republican attitude to the poor and needy. What they regret is getting caught saying it.
Ordinarily, I would dismiss this remark as nothing more than a thoughtless gaffe. However, since it came from a Republican, I think this moron was simply stating what he really thought.