April 8th, 2010
10:16 AM ET
5 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. DL in VA

    To err is human. To forgive is divine.

    Like many of my friends and family, this Virginian was outraged at the proclamation issued by Mr. Governor last week. However, not forgiving an earnest apology would make me lower than the initial act.

    Let it go.

    DL in VA.

    April 8, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  2. Jack

    How can anyone, in this day and age, be so stupid as to be an apologist for the Confederacy. They were the Nazis of the 19th century. Don't buy that crap about state's rights. It was about maintaining slavery. We have records of those tortured and killed trying to escape slavery.

    April 8, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. American45

    It wouldn't matter what McDonnell said or didn't say – these idiots will never be satisfied. How stupid and childish. Get on with life, people!

    April 8, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  4. BK

    How exactly can people who claim to be patriots also honor confederate history? Don't they realize they were rebels and traitors to the US?

    April 8, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  5. Colorado Cowboy

    So Virginians should celebrate this month their state's role in trying to maintain slavery in their state? Is that really something to be celebrated? I am a WASP southerner and proud of it, but I do not celebrate my own ancestors' role in trying to perpetuate the evil practice of slavery. This Republican governor only does what apparently come naturally to Republicans - celebrate their own ignorance, arrogance, and bigotry.

    April 8, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. Ridiculousness

    Of course its not enough. Its never enough. people are never satisfied and how dare them politicize racism. The democrat leaders only use racism as a vehicle to garner votes...thats it.

    This joke of a lawmaker would not be happy unless McDonnell was removed from office.

    Amazing how people turn a deaf ear to comments from the likes of harry reid who basically called obama a palpable black man... and then when he said, thats not what he meant... pandering black democratic leaders embraced him... it was shameful... now this hack and many others like him refuse to give the same grace to someone on the other party side.

    Shame on him and shame on CNN for reporting this in such a biased manner... no wonder you guys are last and sinking in the ratings.

    April 8, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. bob

    The good Senator Marsh ought to "get a life" and move on! Who is he kidding? If the Governor were a lousy Democrat–providing hand outs to Marsh's constituents–Marsh would have gladly accepted any apology and probably would have had a parade at the tax payers expense. This "race thing" is a lot of democrat B.S.!!

    April 8, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  8. Cosmo

    Very sad sign of what still passes for leadership in the South. Is this part of the Republican game plan that since they do not like the health care law and will not cooperate with anything that a Democratic administration will do, if their obstruction of the workings of the government does not work they will secede again? If so, let's start finding another Uncle Billy Sherman so additional "sacrifices" can be may be made by any seccesionists.

    April 8, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. David

    The governor is a bigot. Kind of ironic. A GOP started the civil war and here we have the GOP wanted to reopen the war.

    April 8, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. tired

    I am so tired of hearing the black people talk about slavery. They were sold by their own people, ENOUGH ALREADY! every group coming to this country had to stand on their own two feet, when are they?

    April 8, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  11. Pepou

    What do you expect from a racist ?

    April 8, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. Henry

    The Governor of Virginia is a Confederate at heart. He and his GOP buddies like the days of Slavery and Civil War.

    April 8, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  13. Robert T., New Orleans

    Everyone knows, including the Governor, what he meant by declaring it Confederate History Month. No amount of backsliding will change that. It's just proof that there are still ignorant southerners in power who would like to romance about the "good old days" of having servants and lynching those who don't obey.

    April 8, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. Brig

    While McDonnell should have not missed mentioning slavery Sen. Marsh needs to reflect on our history. Democrats endorsed and fought to protect slavery while Republicans led by our President Lincoln denounced and fought against it. The Democratic party was the party of slavery and led the charge for racism and all its ugliness so WAKE UP...

    April 8, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. hillcoguy

    I'm so glad that there are those, who can delve into another persons heart and mind to truly determine what's REALLY there. This closing of the so called "gap" between the races will NOT be closed until one side allows the other to take that step!

    April 8, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The tone of the Republican party and the tea party have reinforced in politicians like McDonnell that if you want to get ahead you must use disrespectable methods and not self respect and integrity. It's a sad day in America when a leader loses integrity after placing his hand on the Bible and promising to be of service to all people.

    April 8, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. Bill

    In my opinion I think he wanted to leave slavery out of the proclamation because bringing up slavery always causes some type of a controversy. When I was in high school teachers would always try to avoid mentioning slavery because it is a sensitive issue for many students. In my opinion, Henry Marsh jumped to conclusions and tried make Bob McDonnell's exclusion of slavery a big deal. Bob McDonnell just wanted to remember those Confederate soldiers who risked their lives and fought in the Civil War. Plus what better state to have Confederate month then Virginia? Look at all the tourism that it will bring to Virginia. We have Antietam, Manassas, Chancellorsville, Appomattox, Fredericksburg, Culpepper, Spotsylvania, etc.

    I still do not see why African Americans (hope that is politically correct) are still upset about slavery today. I do not believe that anybody should own anybody, but to act as if you are a victim just because you are black is ludicrous. Slavery is in the past in this country, so all of yall getting upset about Confederacy month should get over it, you did not experience it. I also hear about African Americans getting upset about the Confederate flag because of its symbolism of "racism" If that is true, then why aren't they getting upset about the American flag? Slavery was under the American flag longer than the Confederate flag.

    April 8, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. michael armstrong sr.

    This Virginia law maker should get over it and stop trying to raise racial distress over something that dose not amount to a hill of beans this law maker is a trouble maker .

    April 8, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. Avg Guy in Red State Kansas

    It is indeed amzaing that Gov. McDonnell would declare April Confederate History Month let alone do so without softening this major gaffe by recognizing the tragedy of slavery.

    However, when one recognizes that many Republican officeholders are insensitive to the feelings of the masses it's pretty much in character.

    What stupidity.

    April 8, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  20. Teresa Billingsley

    No, I don't accept the apology as being sincere. There is no mistaking that the Civil War wasn't primarily about slavery and it's expansion to the Western states. If our governor wants to honor the brave souls who faught and died during the Civil War, then he needs to pass a proclamation making April, Civil War History Month and tell the whole truth - good, bad and ugly of both sides–and not just Confederate History Month. That would be a true apology. In order for this Commonwealth and the US as a whole to move forward, there needs to be a true ending to the Civil War and a recognition that we are not individual states against each other, but one country united under ONE FLAG.

    April 8, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  21. The GOP was built on the blood, sweat and tears of slaves

    Thank the Lord in Heaven above we have a black well esucated DEMOCRAT President! For over 200 years the GOP has ruled this country through fear, intimidation, violation of civil rights and their right to own slaves. There would be slaves today if good people like President Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr had not said "enough is enough!" The Vitginia Governor is a plantaion owner at heart and would love to have a child by one of his negro slaves girls if he could. Republicans must NEVER be in control of the U.S. Government ever again!

    April 8, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. Forgiveness

    What we need to do is put God back into our lives.Can't everyone see the mess the world is in, and lives children are living.Teachers have told me they can tell when mothers are at home with there children.I see what goes on in these homes where the kids come home to know one.My kids come home smiling and excited to tell me about there day.Think about if these mom's stayed home all the jobs that would be available for the dad's that are unemployed. Why can't they go to work once there kids are older?It's really sad that they even have daycare for children to go when they are sick.I remember being sick when I was a child and my mom making homemade custards.You wonder why children are acting out in anger and turning to drugs,because THEIR mom and dad are turning them over and not taking the responsibility as a parent.

    April 8, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. karen

    McDonnell and his henchman AG Cucinelli are turning Virginia into the laughingstock of America.

    Additionally, the AG told Virginia Public Universities that they could no longer NOT discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation since homosexuals are not a protected class. Thankfully, UVA stood up and told the AG to bug off their hiring practices.

    These people are trying to take us Virginians back into the 50's. He is opposed to gays and women and has now slapped African Americans in the face. This man is a Neanderthal and he is destroying our wonderful State.

    We will lose business opportunities and educational ranking because of him – he is the worst pick EVER by Virginia voters.

    April 8, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. Ben in Texas

    I was born and raised in Texas, but I've lived in the North and abroad. As much as it pains me to say it, I understand McDonnell's dilemma. We are taught things in our youth that conflict with later realities, and meshing these concepts becomes very difficult.

    When I was growing up, "Remember the Alamo" was a phrase that called up visions of heroism to me. Now that I have learned more about the era of Texas independence, the situation is much murkier. The folks at the Alamo did fight hard and die for a cause. It just wasn't a cause that I could agree with 100%.

    Here is a good way for non-southerners to think about the Civil War. Are you proud of your country, its history and leaders? Would you feel proud of living in a country that supported slavery? Would you idolize men who enshrined slavery in their constitution? Well, if you are an American, you DO live in such a country, and all those founding fathers you were taught to look up to wrote a document that counted black people as 2/3 of a person.

    April 8, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. Tony

    I really don't care of Henry Marsh III accepts the governor's apology or not. He was never and have never been a slave. I'm tired of all the black folks in this country thinking that everyone that are not black owes them something because blacks were once slaves over 150 years ago. It's time they quit playing the victim and start owning up to some of their own mistakes instead of blaming everyone else. This country has Black History month in February and Juneteenth on June 19th, but we can't have a Confederate History Month. What a bunch of racist bigots these people are.

    April 8, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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