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. John Lafayette,In

    Sound to me the Republican are a bunch of racist bigot.

    June 3, 2010 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  2. CLM

    Jake Knotts is obviously a moron and best represents what's wrong in America! What the hell is going on with the racisim and disgusting comments, especially from elected officials? Get people like Knotts out of office! We have come too far to back slide to an ugly part in American history!

    June 3, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. Bob (Illinois)

    There is something seriously wrong with 'prominent' South Carolina residents! The comments by the State Senator are truly ignorant.

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

    Ah... now I know why all these former allies of hers claim to have has a sexual relationship with her...
    These racist people can not stand a non-white in power.

    June 3, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  5. arnie

    Why are we surprised!

    June 3, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  6. Jeremy Westenn

    True conservatism and tea party values at their best. First Rand Paul calling for a repeal of the parts of the civil rights act that MADE it so important- and then a Republican saying what conservatives really think of the President and people of non-European descent. I mean, really folks? We accuse them of this stuff here and there, they viciously refute it, then go about enforcing it!

    For all that is good and holy, vote in November for the people that keep getting things done. Vote Democrat.

    June 3, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  7. fmaidment

    Well, there's one politician's career that's about to end...

    June 3, 2010 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  8. Stephen, now THANKFULLY out of SC

    Jake Knotts is the true voice of South Carolina's Republican masses. Not all Republicans think like him, thank God, but enough of them do to make it difficult for the party to shake the "racism" charge, especially in SC.

    June 3, 2010 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. Ted Nygard

    I think that Knotts fellow should do 2 things. 1, Loosen his tie cause it has restriced the bloodflow to his brain to make a totally stupid comment like that, and 2 APOLIGIZE to his mother cause I.m sure she raised him betterthan that !!!

    June 3, 2010 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Stay classy, South Carolina

    June 3, 2010 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  11. coyote123

    How could this idiot ever get to the position he is in??! I would expect this of an ignorant racist that never left their trailer park, but...this is beyond belief.

    June 3, 2010 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  12. DVSD

    The fact that a politician would even use language like this to describe another politician is idiotic, but to use it on a fellow party member that is just plain stupidity.

    People say that racism isn't a problem in politics. The fact that minority members of the Republican Party even continue to stay with the GOP is beyond my understanding.

    I understand their ideology may be the same politically, but when you have people in the party who believe that you are not their equal, it becomes an issue that cannot be ignored.

    If the GOP believe that they are able to regain a majority without the minorities in this country they are going to be in for a long wait. The GOP is willing to accept the money and support from minorities, and at the same time they are working to keep them down.

    The racial comments being made by a lot of Republicans seem to indicate that Mr. Steele is only there as a puppet to attract the money and support from the minorities.

    June 3, 2010 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  13. Maryann

    Mr, Knotts' intelligence is showing and it isn't sparkling. He has a raghead in his family.

    June 3, 2010 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  14. John Moynihan

    Only in South Carolina would the people elect somebody who does that.

    We should nuke South Carolina and start over from scratch. Everything that comes out of there is an embarrassment.

    June 3, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  15. garofulaar

    She can't even get her racial slurs correct. Typical GOP.

    June 3, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  16. 21k

    he's an embarrassment to all Americans, not just south carolinians.

    June 3, 2010 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  17. Darth Vadik, CA

    Here is the tragedy lost in all this, the Republican party is a throw-back whites party. Why anyone who has a trace of some other ethnic blood would be a member of this party is beyond me.

    These are the people who fought (and still fight in a way) to maintain segregation. People who think the 50's were the golden age we need to get back to, back when any one with a hint of color was a second class citizen.

    And time and time again, we see the true colors of Republican party leaders, yet "normal" people still want to be a members of it, or vote for these freaks.

    I know that majority of people are not like that, look what the "macaca" comment did to that idiot in Virginia (of all places). But for the life of m I don't understand it.

    Did Reagan brainwash you that much that you are so scared of a WORD "socialist", that you will forsake your own roots and side with people who only years ago fought tooth and nail to keep you as a second class citizen?

    June 3, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  18. Tim in Chicago

    This is disgusting and out of touch. I'm thinking seriously about writing his office to express my disfavor with his comments. I hope South Carolinaians will consider doing the same.

    June 3, 2010 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  19. bridge4fun

    This is the type of person that represents the people of South Carolina? I find his remarks disgusting. There is nothing more to say.

    June 3, 2010 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  20. LS

    This is your base. These are your people. Embrace them. Love them. This man should be a hero to the republican party.

    June 3, 2010 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  21. The Veteran

    Not all Republicans are racist, but surely, nearly all racists are Republican. Ain't nothin' about that is Christian.

    June 3, 2010 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  22. James in Columbia

    Wow, that's just...lovely. His career is now over, if there's any justice in the world.

    June 3, 2010 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  23. jim

    why do republicans use such slanderous language? if only they would stick to facts, we could take them seriously.

    June 3, 2010 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  24. Brady

    Wow. I don't even know what to say to describe how offensive that comment is.

    June 3, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    I wasn't sure it was possible for me to feel any more contempt for neo-cons, but I guess it is.

    Please, people, even though twits like Knotts have managed to steal the Republican Party, real Republicans, real Conservatives, thoroughly detest them. They make a mockery of everything the Republicans used to stand for. The concept of fiscal restraint is utterly foreign to them and their incessant drive to impose their self-righteous pseudo-morality on everyone utterly belies any claim they make to respecting individual rights.

    With any luck at all, these crumbs will all be sent packing in November.

    June 3, 2010 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
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