June 3rd, 2010
08:33 PM ET
5 years ago

Nikki Haley called 'raghead' by political opponent

'We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,' a South Carolina Republican said Thursday referring to the president and Nikki Haley, pictured.
'We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,' a South Carolina Republican said Thursday referring to the president and Nikki Haley, pictured.

(CNN) - A longtime South Carolina state Senator with a reputation for blunt language used the term “raghead” to describe Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and President Obama during an appearance on a political talk show Thursday.

Haley is of Indian-American descent.

State Sen. Jake Knotts, who backs Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in the four-way Republican primary battle, made the remark during an interview on “Pub Politics,” a popular online political talk show in Columbia.

“We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,” Knotts said, according to multiple people present for the broadcast.

Knotts made the comment after discussing Haley’s Sikh background, said Phil Bailey, one of the show’s hosts and the communications director for the South Carolina Senate Democratic Caucus.

Haley was raised in a Sikh family but is now a practicing Methodist.

Bailey told CNN that Knotts unexpectedly showed up at the webcast and was invited to sit down with the hosts and their panel, which featured two state representatives.

The show’s other host is Wesley Donehue, a Republican operative whose name surfaced in text messages posted online by conservative blogger Will Folks, who alleged last week that he had an affair with Haley. In the text messages, Folks accuses Donehue of shopping rumors about the alleged relationship, which Haley has denied.

Rep. Boyd Brown, a Democrat, was one of the show’s guests Thursday. He said he was “taken back and appalled” by Knotts’ remark.

“He said some things he shouldn’t have said. That’s Jakey,” Brown told CNN. “If I could have crawled under the table I would have.”

Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson blasted Knotts, saying he "represents all that is wrong with South Carolina politics.”

“He’s an embarrassment to our state and to the Republican Party,” Pearson said. “South Carolina is so much better than this, and the people of our state will make that quite clear next Tuesday.”

South Carolina Republican Party chairwoman Karen Floyd called on Knotts to apologize.

“The South Carolina Republican Party strongly condemns any use of racial or religious slurs,” Floyd said in a statement to CNN. “Senator Knotts should apologize for his inappropriate comments, so that we can put this unfortunate incident behind us and focus on issues important to moving our state forward.”

Repeated attempts to reach Knotts for comment were not successful.

Along with Haley and Bauer, Attorney General Henry McMaster and Rep. Gresham Barrett are also seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination. The primary is June 8.

CORRECTION: The initial version of this story said the video of Knotts' remark was pulled from Ustream after the broadcast. Donehue told CNN the video was not removed from the web, and will be posted online Friday.


Filed under: 2010 • Nikki Haley • Popular Posts • South Carolina
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. Nick from NC

    "Raghead"???

    Seriously???

    Well that's nice and offensive. Good going! Nobody does the racial better than a good ole Republican!

    June 3, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  2. Remember the Alamo

    OH , But its quite alright for OBAMA and His supporters to call other canidates names make slurring and degrading remarks like they do PALIN and her girls. But, if a comment is made of or about one of their people the spokesmen are racist, ignorant, and brain-dead people. How did these people over night get so smart. WHO IS RACIAL HERE? IT CERTAINLY IS THE ONES WHO YELL THE LOUDEST CALLING OTHER PEOPLE NAMES.

    June 3, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. MR AMERICA

    WOW! A republican with early 19th century bigotry....SHOCKER!

    June 3, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  4. O157H7

    He merely said what the remainder of the South Carolina GOP establishment has been thinking,.

    June 3, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom (the real one)

    “We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion,” Knotts said, according to multiple people present for the broadcast.
    _______________________________________________________

    And the Republicans keep insisting that they are NOT the Party of Racism! Here is yet another racist comment. Tomorrow we will read Knott's excuses.

    June 3, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  6. Rita Nalette

    South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts should resign. One's thoughts are one's own but as a public official his words aren't. He went beyond the pale.

    June 3, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  7. garc

    Oh yes, those Republicans. It's never been about race, right?

    June 3, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. Future expat

    I think South Carolina lawmakers are afraid that Arizona will overtake their state as the most embarrassing in the nation.

    June 3, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  9. Patrick

    "Technical issues?" Really? You actually expect anyone to believe that? You said it, you mincing little girl. Own up to it. If you're going to be some backwater, stoneage bigot that barely surpasses the Taliban and the Al-Quaeda cavemen savages that put videos online of people being beheaded, then just suck it up and admit to what you are, you cowardly, pathetic little backwoods hick.

    I'm Southern born and bred, and you disgust me. Get out of my area.

    June 3, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  10. Sarah

    Hey Knotts, speaking as a Republican, please announce that you are withdrawing your membership from the Republican party. You are everything that is wrong, you are what gives everyone ammunition to call good, decent, hardworking, conservative republicans racists. Trust me when I tell you, you will not be missed!

    June 3, 2010 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  11. Marie MD

    And we still wonder about SC as being the state from hell?
    SC the state that keeps on giving . . . . . hatred, bigotry, stupidity untruths.
    On the other hand that's two affairs for haley. She better come clean(er than those teeth of hers).

    June 3, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  12. SARA PALIN: AMERICAN QUITTER

    Now that is THE REAL GOP low and clear!!!

    June 3, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. Kevin Cantu

    ROFL........Gotta Love South Carolina. I think that Palmetto died out a long time ago.

    June 3, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. Jeff Spangler

    Politicians should have thicker skin so they don't get incensed over such relatively innocuous epithets. My own view is that anyone whose nationality or ethnicity requires wearing funny hats other than for protection from the sun and rain is a little daft, or as the President's COS might say [fornicating mentally challenged person]. Sticks and stones ...

    June 3, 2010 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  15. Linda

    Surely, not all republicans are racists? Probably not. Just the majority.

    June 3, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. Person of Interest

    finally an honest and open gop racist. stop hiding your true feelings!!

    June 3, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  17. Rob in MO

    I love these repugnant idiots.

    June 3, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  18. Hawkeye

    Typical GOP. They are emboldened by their fringe base and somehow believe that this is the way to conduct themselves. And, thus, embarassment. They don't seem to learn that their small base, and its prejiduces and bigotry, is not acceptable to the general public.

    Give a big shout out to conservative talk radio everywhere for making this kind of "dialogue" possible. It's free speech, of course, but destructive free speech. Special place in Hell for those who profit so personally by dividing this great nation.

    June 3, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  19. Patriot

    So much for the white trash that we have in the Republican Party. Time to lock and load on them. (in a free election, of course...I would never suggest the use of violence)

    June 3, 2010 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  20. Jab

    State Sen. Jake Knotts must be one of South Carolina's best and they must be so proud!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 3, 2010 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Gee, big surprise, a racist AND ignorant Republican. Indian Sikhs are completely different from Muslims. And the women don't wear turbans

    June 3, 2010 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  22. Patrick

    "Technical issues?" Really? You expect anyone to believe that? You said it, He-Man. Own up to it and stand behind it.

    June 3, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    This guy is an idiot.

    June 3, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  24. independent

    South Carolina's GOP, eating its own.

    June 3, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  25. DrPete

    Makes me want to move to South Carolina just so I can vote against him.

    June 3, 2010 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
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