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. Methuselah

    Dude! Why don't you just go on vacation just before election day or something else real stupid before you ...what am I saying, you get elected? really? If you get elected, South Carolina stamps this Raghead on its own forehead. What a bigoted idiot indeed!

    June 3, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  2. Kirk

    It's sick that talk like this is tolerated these days. Sad thing is, a good number of people agree with Knotts.

    June 3, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    I have a very uneducated good ole boy redneck acquaintance that calls his doctor a raghead because he's of Indian descent.

    Brilliant doctor that saves lives vs ignorant southern redneck.

    Need I say more.

    June 3, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  4. DENNA

    Nikki, get a clue. The Old Boys Club doesn't want you. I can't believe that you would even bother running as a conservative. I guess that you haven't been paying attention to how your party treats President Obama. Well girlie, they don't think much of you either. As to Jake Knotts, I'd rather be a 'raghead' than an idiot.

    June 3, 2010 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  5. Bob(Illinois)

    The ignorance in SC never ceases to amaze me!

    June 3, 2010 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  6. jilli

    Stay classy Mr. Knott

    June 3, 2010 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  7. Mageprime from Houston

    The "CONservative" repugs have been showing their true colors ever since Obama has became president.

    June 3, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  8. Tina

    And southerners wonder why so much of the country sees them as rednecks, uneducated yahoos, etc. Um, could it be because you keep electing politicians like Jake Knotts?

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

    As a teacher, I tell all my students that race, religion, mental capacity and sexual orientation are four things that exist beyond our ability to control. It's both unfair and unproductive to whittle someone's existence down to a narrow stereotype. The only thing State Sen. Knots proved with this quote his is his own ignorance. Should he continue to re-elected by the citizens of South Carolina, it would reflect very poorly on them as citizens of the 21st century.

    June 3, 2010 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  10. BigMikelee

    This is Disgusting...this sounds like what Sarah Plain had to go through...any young, attractive conservative woman with kids is a "no go" for these Good ole boys in the GOP....politics is disgusting

    June 3, 2010 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  11. biff

    A republicans calls a gop nominee and democrat potus a raghead, and all they is an 'apology' ... like this guy would mean it. You know if obama said that or pelosi/reid republicans would be in the streets calling for their resignation.

    June 3, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  12. MishaJohn

    Disgusting, but some measure of justice in the GOP self-immolating in the intolerance and bigotry stoked it has stoked.

    June 3, 2010 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  13. Martin

    The American people are sick and tired of a lot of things these days but that is no excuse for this continued type of divisive and hurtful language and banter. It's well past time for politicians to clean up their act and remember they are just a recall vote away from being unemployed. S.C. I hope you remove this racist separatist from your ranks, nothing can get done with vile ignorant bitterness being accepted as simply politics.

    June 3, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  14. Steve (the real one)

    Ignorance comes in ALL colors, sizes, shapes, gender, states, religions AND parties. Knotts is what somebody needs to strategically place....on his head! He is NOT an embarrassment to just South Carolina and the GOP. This guy is an embarrassment to humanity!

    June 3, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  15. Charles Stoll

    I think the people of South Carolina (where I have a Condo in Myrtle) should be very proud of themselves for their choice of state senators. I am sure he will be reelected by the popular majority of toothless, backwood redknecks who have multiple sets of sheets. (some for their beds and some to wear). I might also add that I am almost 100% sure, they go to church weekly and praise the lord for his goodness because he is a just God, it is just that these people (not all of them of course) put the H in hypocracy and E in embarrasment for living in My USof A.

    June 3, 2010 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  16. Pam

    What a slob. White-trash at it's finest.

    June 3, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. jim atmadison

    Gee, and Republicans complain when people say they're a bunch of racists. Sorry, GOPers, you are what you are.

    June 3, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  18. gate

    A racist Republican? What a shock. Publish a story when you find one that isn't racist.

    June 3, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. malabar

    Obama and Haley were both called ragheads . . . now watch the hypocritical, childlike buffoonery of the unhinged left both condemn knotts 4 using it against Obama and cheer him 4 using it against Haley. ready . . set . . GO . . .

    June 3, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  20. cryUncle

    This kind of idiocy is the tip of the iceberg. Our country seethes with racism, xenophobia, homophobia and many other cancers. The only vaccine for such social ailments is education.

    June 3, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  21. billybob 'n NC

    and they have a bigoted, ignorant fool in the SC state senate..

    June 3, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  22. LoansomeDoc

    This is the kind of native trailer trash that makes SC one of the most backward states in the Union. If Andre Bauer doesn't throw this dufus under the bus he will find himself under it.

    Decent people everywhere must repudiate this type of racism.

    June 3, 2010 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  23. ricky Atlanta

    Spoken like a True Republican racist, thanks for confirming what we already know!

    June 3, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  24. Doug D.

    Hearing statements like this depress me so much. I want my country to be so much more than it appears it can be.

    June 3, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  25. Jae

    How's that New South working for y'all?

    June 3, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
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