June 3rd, 2010
08:33 PM ET
4 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. Clayton Smalley

    This is what the Republican Party stands for. Not too long ago societal norms allowed for men to wear white sheets and terrorize the people their grandfathers owned. Today, claiming just to not like his politics, those same racist people and their offspring are leading a political party whose leaders openly throw slurs around to the quiet support of the right wing people that elected them.

    June 3, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. Fed Up!

    Knotts is a limited human being.

    June 3, 2010 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  3. Mike

    As a Republican I am appalled at the type of language still being used within the party I support (for now).
    When will these idiots learn that they are driving away supporters?
    I am finding myself closer and closer to the Independent category every election year.
    Both parties have nearly lost any respect I had for either.

    It is time for a revolution in this country and it needs to start with a viable third party. Then we can peacefully show the Repubs and Dems the perverbial one way door.

    June 3, 2010 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  4. CNNbeatsFOX

    “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.

    This is a disgrace. He needs to step down. Though he is probably not out-of-step with his constituency, a state representative who spews this kind of racism should not be in public office. To suggest that President Obama is a foreigner reveals this man is likely a birther-lunatic, and then to state that race or nationality is a criterion for government is not worthy of his office.

    June 3, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. Discernment

    TRASH, TRASH, and more SOUTH CAROLINA GOP TRASH

    (1.) – South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford; the "hypocritical" religious conservative who lied to state staff members claiming he was hiking the Appalachian trail when actually he used taxpayer dollars to fly to Argentina on to lure his mistress back. This was on Fathers Day weekend when he should have been with his 4-boys and wife.

    (2.) – U.S. South Carolina Republican Congressman and retired Colonel of the Army National Guard, a man who demanded professional decorum of the members in his command; acted "hypocritically" as he disrespect his own "Commander-in-Chief" during a major speech to Congress. Later this hypocrite set up a web site to collect millions for disrespect of the "chain-of-command".

    (3.) – South Carolina Republican State Senator Jake Knotts – - No surprise, just more South Carolina GOP Trash.

    June 3, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Only in the South in the same state that has the confederate flag flying. Guess this REPUBLICAN is flying his true colors.

    June 3, 2010 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  7. Carlos

    Way to go Jake, tell the truth!

    June 3, 2010 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Right out of the racist right republican playbook. I like to call it the The Tripple R – Playbook. That's funny though. All they can resort to is ignorance because they're just not intelligent enough to come up with actual real argument. Instead it's manufactured crap and ignorance to back it up. Keep up the good work repubs...see you at the voting polls.

    June 3, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  9. Gpenn

    Nice talk from the GOP. My feeling is this is how they really feel and usually hide it from the public.

    June 3, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  10. GaryB

    Senator Knotts, you already have one (insert popular four-letter-word for male genetalia here) below your belt. Do you really need another one in place of your head?

    June 3, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. Donnatella

    As a southerner now living in NJ, this kind of talk really bothers me, when I tell people I was born in NC because I still have an accent, they ask me stupid questions like do you have a confederate flag in your house, are you a racist, do you hate black people, I can't blame them with idiots like this women on the airwaves. This is why I am not a republican these people are stuck in time, they just don't seem to realize there is no going back, we can only go forward.

    June 3, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. John

    Once again South Carolina GOP politicians lead with stupid comments.

    June 3, 2010 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  13. KJ

    Instead of commenting on her political views, this so-called adult resorts to child like behavior.

    June 3, 2010 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  14. Carmelle

    stay classy racists.

    June 3, 2010 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  15. Cecil

    Wow.
    That's all I can say.
    Wow.

    June 3, 2010 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  16. stevetall

    Are all politicians in South Carolina douche bags? Are there any good ones? Holy smokes, this guy should be tarred and feathered, even in a state where, apparently, all politicians should be tarred and feathered!

    June 3, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  17. Peter Tuths

    I was going to make a comment about being appalled or insulted, but so many "scandals" like this come out of the Republican party it's hard not to just accept them.

    Me: "A Republican Senator called the President and another governmental candidate a raghead? (tries to muster up a look of surprise – fails – gets ice cream instead)."

    June 3, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  18. Discernment

    TRASH, TRASH, and more SOUTH CAROLINA GOP TRASH

    (1.) – South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford; the "hypocritical" religious conservative who lied to state staff members claiming he was hiking the Appalachian trail when actually he used taxpayer dollars to fly to Argentina to lure his mistress back. This was on Fathers Day weekend when he should have been with his four sons and wife.

    (2.) – U.S. South Carolina Republican Congressman and retired Colonel of the Army National Guard, a man who demanded professional decorum of the members in his command; acted "hypocritically" as he disrespect his own "Commander-in-Chief" during a major speech to Congress. Later this hypocrite set up a web site to collect millions for disrespect of the "chain-of-command".

    (3.) – South Carolina Republican State Senator Jake Knotts – - No surprise, just more South Carolina GOP Trash.

    June 3, 2010 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  19. ohsnap

    And yet, they insist it's not about race.

    June 3, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Sadly, he will probably come away unscathed. His supporters will defend him by saying he is a "straight shooter, the popular code word for loud mouth morons

    June 3, 2010 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  21. Erlinda Brent

    There should be no room and no tolerance for such slurs. I am frightened and appalled that someone would use this kind of language. I am frightened even more by those who don't use the language, but feel this way. It is both hateful and ignorant.

    June 3, 2010 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  22. Andrew

    My GOD! The GOP have lost just about any respect I ever really had for them. Not saying the Dems and I are on good terms.. but please GOP keep these childish, uneducated, ignorant , tom foolery, loud mouth, complete utter retards from speaking on radio , TV.. GOP is going down hill. If the GOP keep this up.. the Dems will have 100% control of congress.

    June 3, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  23. John

    It truly is not surprising. Nevertheless it is disheartening to see we have so many intolerant "leaders."

    June 3, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  24. And this surprises anyone why.......

    Same old message.

    Same old hate.

    Same old fear.

    Just a different target. How anyone could ever proudly say they are a Republican is profoundly confusing.

    June 3, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  25. Steven

    State Sen. Jake Knotts needs to get out of public life. We do not need another racist bigot. Racial or religious slurs seem to spew from GOP mouths easily along with continued and complete disrespect for our President.

    June 3, 2010 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
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