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. Jim

    Hate and stupidity is alive and well in this counrty. Being stupid and showing your stupidity to everyone is an American right like the right to bear arms. God, some humans and so many Republicans are so full of hate. God must be just waiting for them to show up face to face. It will be so funny when they are ushered on a bus going south. To the real south that is. :-) Have a nice trip.

    June 3, 2010 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  2. Chris

    South Carolina must be so proud.

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

    Totally unorthodox and display of lowest level mentality by the Senator. Why can't the Senator be fired for making such remarks which can be expected only from a barbarian? he should be forced to go back to elementary school and take lessons in diversity. His punishment should be to force him to take classes with 2nd or 3rd graders in the school to learn how to live with people of all races and colors. Its a pity that fools like him are in the Senate.

    June 3, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  4. John

    Are you kidding me... just when you think it can't get any wierder... along comes Knotts! This guy needs psychiatric help BAD!!! In the meantime, he needs to be removed from office!

    June 3, 2010 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. Carmelle

    oh! I know!!!

    He's mad as hell that he's the only one not getting a piece of her "action".

    duh. :)

    June 3, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. lucy

    The GOP is becoming more and more a party of bigots and hate-mongers. These people are way more frightening than the "ragheads" they slander. It reminds me that the Inquisition, slavery and the Salem witch trials were all the product of practicing Christians. I wonder if any of them actually read the bible?

    June 3, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  7. mamacoo

    And that should tell people everything they need to know about South Carolina.

    June 3, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  8. Chris

    You've got to be kidding me? And you're not. This country is in deep deep trouble.

    June 3, 2010 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. Alex in Wisconsin

    Suddenly, I'm starting to believe Nikki Haley alot more than i was before. It is completely plausible that there are members of the SC GOP who don't like her because of her ethnic background. It would follow that they would engineer the sort of smear campaign against Nikki Haley that we have seen so far. not saying she's innocent yet, I'm just saying that whether guilty of infidelity or not, the South Carolina Republican establishment is capable of throwing one of their own under the bus due purely racial bias.

    June 3, 2010 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  10. Chuck T

    Yes Senator Knotts, I am sure South Carolina would be better off with a total imbecile like you. That is just what it needs.

    June 3, 2010 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  11. J.S

    The SIKH's are an amazing people yes they wear a turban but they are not muslim..... Peaceful follower of various enlightened yogi's(no not the yankee)...

    They fought by our side in almost every american war including the revolution...... Learn some history outside that white wash trash.....

    June 3, 2010 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  12. greenpapayasangha

    South Carolina, is NOT better than this. In fact it is quite typical of politics of the deeply homophobic racist state. It CAN be better than this but it needs to purge its past. Better is the mayor of Spartanburg who welcomed the Gay Pride parade. He should be your next governor.

    June 3, 2010 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  13. John

    Yeah... that's good old "Jakey" all right. Knotts is not only an embarassment to the GOP, how about to civilized humanity! "Jakey" needs to be GONE from government!!!

    June 3, 2010 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  14. Brian

    Another shining representation of the Republican Party.

    June 3, 2010 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  15. Liberal4Obama

    Nikki Haley is getting the Obama treatment by the GOP. Tomorrow they will be asking for her birth certificate.

    June 3, 2010 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. Chris_VA

    Obviously being ignorant and unprofessional is a plus in his state. He's another example that democracy doesn't guarantee good government; it's just a starting point.

    June 3, 2010 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  17. works for me

    So this is what America is coming to??? Open, blatant racism from the GOP.

    Disgusting... they should be ashamed, but I don't believe they have any shame left. The great people of the Carolinas should blow these bigots out of the water come November.

    June 3, 2010 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  18. Debi

    Perhaps, Senator Knox, what we truly don't need, is a foul mouthed redneck taking up valuable space in the senate. I'm sure both President Obama and Nikki Haley are better schooled in politics and manners than you. People like you should follow some advice that I was given as a child: Its better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're a fool than to open it and prove them correct.

    June 3, 2010 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  19. John Phelps

    I thought I had heard it all coming from Detroit where politics are as dirty as they are in Chicago. But the South Carolina political scene takes the cake as far as inconsiderate, and most frequently illiterate, politics go. I have lived in Charleston for 5 years now and would not have ever imagined that state politics wold be this far down in the gutter.
    South Carolina needs to get rid of this type of politician – the sooner the better. No wonder the south is often the laughing stock of the country. Doesn’t Jake Knotts have any sense of decorum? (Jake – I know decorum is a big word but look it up in the dictionary)

    June 3, 2010 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. cando

    Looks like a bunch of disfuctional people live in S. Carolina.

    June 3, 2010 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  21. Karl in Charleston,SC

    Another sad moment in South Carolina's political history; and I'm a Conservative Republican!

    June 3, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  22. david from oregon

    the true colors of a Republican once again. Thank God these old Republicans are going to die soon...the question is whether the young ones are any different?

    June 3, 2010 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    What a disgrace to America this Jake Knotts is.

    June 3, 2010 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  24. Shocked!

    Wow! Imagine that! A racist Republican? Who would have expected that?

    June 3, 2010 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. BC659

    Real class act, Sen. Jake Knotts. Infantile is more like it.

    June 3, 2010 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
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