April 8th, 2010
10:16 AM ET
4 years ago

Apology not accepted, lawmaker says of McDonnell

'I expect respect from him and toward me and my constituents.  If he continues to do this, I’m not going to believe his apologies,' Virginia State Sen. Henry Marsh III said of the state's governor Bob McDonnell.
'I expect respect from him and toward me and my constituents. If he continues to do this, I’m not going to believe his apologies,' Virginia State Sen. Henry Marsh III said of the state's governor Bob McDonnell.

Washington (CNN) – An African-American Virginia lawmaker said Wednesday that he is not yet ready to accept an apology from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, suggesting McDonnell’s misstep regarding Virginia’s confederate history is part of a pattern which calls the governor’s sincerity into question.

The Republican governor apologized earlier Wednesday after coming under criticism for issuing a proclamation that declared April to be Confederate History Month in the state but which made no mention of slavery.

Earlier: Not mentioning slavery 'a mistake,' McDonnell says

“The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,” McDonnell said in a statement. The governor also announced that his proclamation would be amended to mention slavery and call it “an evil and inhumane practice.”

But Virginia State Sen. Henry Marsh III said the mea culpa was not enough.

“He has a right to apologize,” Marsh, a Democrat, said on CNN’s “John King, USA,” “but I don’t accept that as a good answer because this is a pattern of this governor. He says the wrong thing, he sends a signal to his base and then he makes an apology. And this has happened many, many times so I think it’s a question of whether or not he’s sincere or not.”

Marsh also faulted McDonnell for not being sufficiently inclusive in how he governs Virginia.

“He set a high standard for himself,” Marsh said of McDonnell. “He said he was going to bring Virginians together, he was going to reach out and be the governor for all Virginians. But, so far, his actions haven’t demonstrated that. And this is the latest in a series of insults to a sizeable segment of Virginia. And I just think that we need to be careful – that you can do something and apologize and keep on doing it again. And I don’t think that’s the right way to govern all the people.”

Marsh added that he accepted McDonnell as “my governor,” but added “I expect respect from him and toward me and my constituents. If he continues to do this, I’m not going to believe his apologies. If he’s sincere then I’ll accept his apologies but, so far, he’s starting off on the wrong foot.”

The Virginia lawmaker also told King he’d be “glad” to meet with McDonnell.

While Marsh held his ground when it came to the Republican governor, McDonnell’s apology was accepted by a prominent, African-American Democrat.

“My great, great grandparents, their offspring and others were split up in the Commonwealth of Virginia & sold into slavery,” Donna Brazile posted on Twitter. “Apology accepted,” the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor declared.

McDonnell was invited to appear on the Wednesday broadcast of “John King, USA” and the governor continues to have an invitation to come on the program, King said.


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • JKUSA • John King USA • Virginia
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Bruce in VA

    Oh for crying out loud. It is so rare that a politician acknowledges mistakes and apologizes for them. Move on.

    April 8, 2010 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  2. shucks

    HIs slavery omission wasn't a mistake it was racism. Call it what it is Governor, We Americans are sick and tired of the rancor and rhetoric that keeps spewing from the mouths of these so called "christian" republican politicians. It is sickening, and the most anti-American rhetoric other than from middle eastern terrorists. America is not so great anymore, it is just full of so much hate that it has lost it's brightness.

    April 8, 2010 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  3. Montes

    He is not a Governor for the people but only for a select group of people. This is a celebration of treason against our country. Where is history is such a travesty or those who lost a war celebrated. This is the type of action that seperates us and we need to unite and make certain he is never elected again.

    April 8, 2010 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  4. Allen

    As soon as Confederate history is mentioned my first thought goes to the end of slavery; it doesn't have to be specified. There were many aspects to the civil War, but slavery is certainly the most commonly discussed.
    There have been countless apologies given in regards to the treatment of African Americans in the history of this country. If people, such as the good congressman would stop tearing at the wound, then maybe sooner then later the goals of those, such as Dr. King would finally come to fruition.

    April 8, 2010 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  5. Aaron

    I agree with Sen. Henry Marsh III’s assessment of the lack of sincerity with Gov. Bob McDonnel’s apology. The fact Gov. Bob McDonnel consciously omitted slavery and openly celebrated the actions that would have promoted it to me demonstrates a specific malicious act. As horrific and inhuman as slavery was Gov. Bob McDonnel actions suggests it was irrelevant.

    Think about that for a second the millions of lives lost, adversely impacted, and stolen to Gov. Bob McDonnel they are irrelevant.

    April 8, 2010 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  6. Common Sense

    Apologize for what?Giving your people a higher standard of living thatn any where else on earth?Then even in your own native countries?From saving your ancestors from ending up in the stew pot as was tthe case for prisoners of war in Africa at the time?

    April 8, 2010 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  7. T'SAH from Virginia

    I know someone who used to work for Marsh. He is a very intelligent guy and has been around for a very long time.

    Marsh states "...“I expect respect from him and toward me and my constituents..." Which is true, McDonnell does not care about anyone of color in the state of VA nor does he care about women. He proves it every time he opens his mouth and by his actions.

    So far this year, McDonnell has apologized more than three times for letting what he TRULY BELIEVES come out. After awhile, it's almost impossible NOT to see what he TRULY IS – a far-right confederate loving bigot.

    YES, Marsh is right by saying if McDonnell continues on his path and the 'apologies' are not sincere then NO, he would NOT accept his apology.... Case and POINT!!!

    April 8, 2010 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  8. Jimmy

    This was Bob McDonnell's "MACACCA MOMENT."

    Good bye, Bob! That's a wrap on your political career.

    April 8, 2010 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  9. Mike, Ohio

    While slavery was a cruel practice, this guy needs to get over it, "My great, great grandparents, their offspring and others were split up in the Commonwealth of Virginia & sold into slavery,” Time to get over it. Why do African Americans continue to use something that ended almost 200 years ago as a crutch? If they really want to move on from slavery, they need to stop being so sensitive about it

    April 8, 2010 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  10. B. Jean

    This was the absolute right response from Marsh. I am tired of the seemingly intelligent politicians making stupid (wink, wink) comments and then apologizing "if it offended anyone". Of course it was offense to suggest that the Confederacy was fighting for its homeland – it all was about slavery and any nitwit knows that. McDonnell was reaching out to the element that still waves the confederate flag and he darn well knows that as well. So, no more apologies. Get it right the first time or your true colors increasingly will show.

    April 8, 2010 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  11. James M.

    This was not a mistake...it had to be done intentionally. It is first of all, ridiculous to declare any month Confederate History Month, when that history is based on slavery and a failed attempt to un-Unite the states. Then to further cause harm to black people and all other Americans alike by not acknowledging a rather huge mar on the history of this country is thoughtless, ignorant to say the least, and calculated. This man is not fit to command anyone, including himself.

    April 8, 2010 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  12. JD

    First off, there were more issues to the Civil War than slavery. LEARN SOME HISTORY. Second, most of the people who fought for the south in the Civil War were not slaveholders. LEARN SOME HISTORY. Finally, slavery was and will always be a bad thing. All of the apologies in the world will not change that or make it right. As far as I can tell, ancestors of mine were indentured servants in Virginia in the 1600's. They were more or less forced to come here, and had to do whatever they were told. I have not received a single apology; in fact it would be idiotic for anyone to offer me one, 400 years after the fact. We can't change the past, but we can learn from it and move on.

    I had ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. As near as I can tell, they both dies in Franklin, TN in 1864 (might have even shot each other!). Are you seriously telling me that one of them should be honored and the other relegated to thug status? LEARN SOME HISTORY.

    April 8, 2010 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  13. republican idiot

    another republican wearing the white sheet I was going to visit
    virginia but I am not going to go now your lost my gain hillbillies

    April 8, 2010 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  14. Shibumi

    Rep. Henry Marsh looking for some "rep-uh-rations". Show me da' money!

    April 8, 2010 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  15. Fritz

    I grew up (ages 11-17) and have to say, after moving from Ohio to the South, I was shocked. White, upper middle class neighbourhood and the families used terms I only read about in history books to refer to blacks and their families. The racisim in that state, where the only true things that ever happened, Confederate capital and Thomas Jefferson's ghost walks the UVA campus, is abhorrent. These are families who wave their Confederate flag, believe that "The War between the States" was really won by the Confederacy, and most believe they are descended from great Confederate generals....if this, in fact were true, and all these families were descendants of great warrior generals, the south probably would have won the war, but alas, concession wasn't an option at the time. There is one other possibility about their having a great general as a relative, and this could be true: they all have the same relative, making them related, which really would clear up a lot of things the rest of the country sees within VA politics, and the south in general. Shallow gene pools lead to terrible governorships.

    April 8, 2010 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  16. Dan Holiday

    Why stop there. He should also mention that the Witch Trials were bad as well. Why not throw out how running with scissors is evil. This black man needs to realize that it is pretty much a given that slavery is bad. I don't think there is a need to mention it in the proclamation. If he is so upset about slavery maybe he should take a trip to his Motherland (Africa) and take it up with the countries that captured and sold his fellow blacks to various countries around the world. Maybe he should try to get them to stop doing it still...as it is a practice that persists in countries along the West African coast even today. But then he would actually have to confront his own people...black people...and ask them why. That is much harder than just blaming ol' whitey for all the problems of the world. Stop frontin' Mr. Marsh. Stop being so divisive. Stop blaming white people. And stop being a racist.

    April 8, 2010 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  17. Michael Olah

    I lived in Richmond for a few years. Several things you learn when you are there. First, Richmond is not the "former" capital of the Confederacy, it is the "current" capital. Second, it's not "General Robert E. Lee", its "THE BELOVED General Robert E. Lee." And finally, it's not the Civil War, it's the "War of Southern Independence" or "The War Against Northern Aggression." Virginia is so steeped in history that it refuses to see things in light of current social mores. More than once I heard people talk about not trusting someone from north of the Mason Dixon line (of which I am one), and that people of color (referred to as "darkies") were not to be trusted (most notably from the name partner of a large law firm to his client referring to another attorney in the D.C. area representing a major corporation with whom the client had business dealing with).

    Thankfully, I now live back in the civilized north.....

    April 8, 2010 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  18. texasfreedom

    Marsh is just another Al Sharpton racist.

    April 8, 2010 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  19. Virginia Mom

    Sen. Marsh should have been more truthful, explaining that he won't accept the apology "because that would defuse all the anger I can wring out of this, and because it would prevent me from exploiting the issue of race to tarnish the character of a decent, honorable man who has admitted his mistake and offered a sincere apology".

    April 8, 2010 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  20. go on with your bad self

    Nothin' finer than the good old boys network to be alive and well huh?

    Is he kidding?! His 'mistake' was HUGE. and, on purpose. Everything confederate is slavery. Hello. This false pride in this confederate thing KILLS me. Its not a mascot people. Its not football ya'll...or a beauty pagent ya'll.

    Once, yet again, self centered REPUBLICANKNUCKLEHEADS shove their collective feet in their mouths. Got to love old white guys.
    They sure do know hoe to say sorry once they put it out there ya got to give them that.

    Not that they are sorry....but...they say it.

    April 8, 2010 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  21. Newport News resident

    I live in the state of Virginia and I am appalled by this governor. I don't accept his apology over something that was a deliberate act. McDonnell received many endorsements from black lawmakers and to deliberately not mention slavery was an insult to all African Americans in Virginia as well as the country. Donna, I'm very disapointed that you accepted his apology, I certainly dont.

    April 8, 2010 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  22. Shawn

    The Civil War was an evil, anti-American crusade to own human beings and the fact that the Virginia Governor feels the need to "honor" it in such a way is truly disgusting.

    I am so thankful I escaped Virginia years ago.

    April 8, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  23. Dave

    Another example of how a Democrat can do anything he wants, apologize and declare the issue is over, but a Republican can never apologize. INstead, he must never hear the ned of it.
    The bottom line is all he is doing is honoring the soldiers who died in the Civil War and trying to boost tourism with a renewed effort to display the history of the civil war (which was mostly fought for reasons other than slavery)

    April 8, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  24. Tom C

    I always thought that when you make a statement that is prepared, in detail to the press, that is exactly what you wanted to say. This was no mistake, he said what he wanted to say to his base, and then apologized. It was a structured, organized strategy!!!

    April 8, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  25. Jay from Atlanta

    I truly believe that all of the southern Republican Governors communicate with each other and are racist. I'm sorry, but they all are doing the same exact dumb stuff.

    April 8, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
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