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. cheryl

    This is why South Carolina and the south in general are know as backwater idiots! Somebody tell that old fart that the south lost the war.

    June 3, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  2. juanchin

    It is true that Haley hasn't broadcast her Indian heritage. However, calling her a rag head is totally sickening. I am beginning to believe Haley when she speaks of South Carolina politics at its worst. She has taken numerous hits over the last few weeks from being accused to having two affairs and now this unnecessary craziness. I wonder why this woman scares the GOP establishment so much in SC? The loon who called her this name is backing the lieutenant governor and rumors have swirlled around his sexual preference for years. Perhaps gloves should come off and all the Republican candidates should just throw punches and the last person standing becomes the gubernatorial nominee. It's all fair game in South Carolina thanks to the state Republican Party.

    June 3, 2010 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  3. Ken

    It's South Carolina – what's shocking about this?????

    June 3, 2010 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  4. Moderate

    They even hate each other, wow!

    June 3, 2010 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  5. Indenpendent Lady

    A Southern Republican makes a racial slur, not surprised, they are still fighting the Civil War

    June 3, 2010 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  6. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    another example of GOP class.... but we call it RACISM

    June 3, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  7. John from Brooklyn

    South Carolina.....the state that keeps reconfirming all of the worst preconceived notions that the rest of the country has of the South.

    The most disturbing part of this remark is not its content (THAT is actually beyond comment) but, rather, that this idiot is regarded as a viable Republican candidate for a major statewide office in ANY state.

    June 3, 2010 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  8. reggie from la

    Oh come now. LOL. Bad enough to have been "xtra chummy" with the Senator (if it's true) then out her this way. Real men don't do that. Must be a motive. We should be fair now. Ah heck!! Could be true. Say, who's the "raghead" in the Whitehouse? Better question, who's the rocket scientist from South Carolina? People voted that into office. You have got to be kidding. LOL. Alright. OK. ROLFL. Not only did the poor woman lose out on discretion, now she has to be lableled as unacceptable based on her ethnicity. Watch it take hold and turn uglier. So predictable. My theory did not fail me. Economic downturn brings out the worst in man. This is a perfect and boldface example of judgement and bigotry becoming acceptable to a lot of people.

    June 3, 2010 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  9. concerned citizen

    There are only two posibilities in this case, either she did it or she did not. If she did it, only proves the hypocresies of the republican politicians, if she did not she must sue them for slander and difamation of character, if she does not sue them something must be certain about her actions. At any rate we have had 8 years of one of te most disastrous administrations in SC. The only diference between Ms. Haley and Mr. Sanford is the gender. I hope the people of Sc make the right decision and elect someone else othere than her

    June 3, 2010 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  10. Judi in Minnesota

    His choice of words shows his lack of intelligence. The fact that he holds elected office shows the lack of intelligence of the people that voted him into office.

    June 3, 2010 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  11. James

    Wow. The Grumpy Old Party (GOP) really outdid themselves on that. Bravo, no Brava! 10.0 on the bigot scale!

    June 3, 2010 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  12. $50

    Jake Knotts is only a state representative. Here in Iowa we have US Rep. Steven King. Now there's a world class buffoon!!

    June 3, 2010 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  13. andre

    wow, thats just terrible. Has the political spectrum really lowered down to this level of idiocy?

    June 3, 2010 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  14. Andrew

    I'm a strong Republican and I tend to agree. Not only should that person apologize, but he should resign from office. That statement isn't a target of our extreme political correct society; it is just plain offensive, derogatory, and uncalled for.

    June 3, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  15. Will

    Woooowww!! Really??!!!...There is no spin in the world that can clean that up...Seriously, I think the republicans are getting the hang of growing and diversifying the party now! Ha!

    June 3, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  16. ConstitutionalPatriot

    Wow! What an idiot! How stupid can you be? Here comes the left wing hate machine to capitolize on this! It's bad enough they try to label all conservatives as racist simply because we don't agree on political issues, but then this idiot comes along and helps make their unfair stereotype seem valid. This guy must be too dumb to actually be a conservative, must be something in the water over there, just look at lindsay graham he's an idiot too! Everyone read the other comments here, I guarantee you will see the left wing lunatic hate machine go into overdrive over this! Vote this idiot out of office or let him pull a Specter and go with the idiot party where the hate really is fashionable in a politically correct twisted way. Screw the Democrats and Republicans vote for libertarian candidates who will respect the Constitution and the rights of everyone regardless of race!

    June 3, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  17. iceprincess

    Ha! I would feel sorry for her if she wasn't a Republican

    June 3, 2010 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  18. mabel floyd

    another family values dufess unmasked–will they never learn? .the women will find that family values hypocrisy will not sell any better for a women than it does for a man.
    the jerk who used the tern "raghead" represents the red neck/white trash segment of their lower than average IQ state.

    June 3, 2010 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  19. Ken

    Ah Ha' Yet again one of the rights true racists and bigots sprewing that racial hatred. This what they do best, this is ALL they do. They are the ture un-Americans of this great country and push their racial cancer generation to generation.

    June 3, 2010 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  20. Jack in Florida

    Jake Knotts opens his mouth and shows his ignorance! A real class act.....should we expect more from South Carolina?!?!? What an embarrassment to the state.

    June 3, 2010 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  21. Matt

    Sen. Knotts: carrying on the fine Southern traditions of ignorant racist douchebaggery and religious intolerance.

    June 3, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  22. 60s survivor

    look I don't care for Haley. or for that matter any of the republicans in this state. but this guy is definately a jerk. anyone associated with him falls in the same catagory. I vote straight democratic ticket here. such a thug state it needs to get enlightened. hateful they are. never got over the civil war obviosly'!!

    June 3, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  23. Sandlapper

    The SC GOP needs to kick this man out of the party. I am a native South Carolinian and longtime GOP voter, but there should be no place in the state government or party for someone as ignorant as this. That is flat out hate, and it is also ridiculously inaccurate. Even if Ms. Haley were Sikh, Sikhs are not Muslim, or even allied with Muslims. Even if President Obama were Muslim, that term should be unacceptable for a public official. Knotts is an embarrassment to the state, and he should be kicked to the curb. I don't care which party wins his seat, as long as it is someone other than Jake Knotts.

    June 3, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  24. turbonupe

    WOW, but why am i not surprised, when i was in the military, i was transferred from philly to S.C., so i'm driving in and pass the state capitol and see the confederate flag flying from the top, i new right away, i had to get the hell out of there ASAP, not everybody there thinks like him, but he is not alone in that type of thinking in that state

    June 3, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  25. E. F. Sharr

    I imagine he will get more votes in his safe white district, just like the other guy did who called our elected president a liar. That was probably what his intention was. First, he'll send the link to the YouTube video to his constituents. Next, he'll make a half-hearted apology.

    June 3, 2010 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9