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. Ndubueze Chuku

    State Senator Jake Knotts is a BIGOT but why am I not surprised. This is South Carolina.

    June 3, 2010 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  2. Joel Noonan

    Wow. Classy.

    June 3, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  3. JES

    You are one stupid person. It seems like you are like our VP just full of crap.

    Where do you get off talking like thatabout any person.

    You sound like a bigot to me.

    June 3, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  4. reality

    your are allowed to get up and leave

    June 3, 2010 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  5. jbakaregit

    Just keep it classy GOP.

    I'm really wondering now if they aren't trying to throw the November elections? Their demonstrations of late (i.e. Rand Paul remarks, chicken lady out in Nevada, Arizona racial profiling law, Jim Greer of Fl, Bush now resurfacing admitting he tortured and would do it again, etc) wouldn't suggest anything else.

    June 3, 2010 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  6. bill486

    So.....this Jake Knotts guy....is this how ALL South Carolinians are?

    June 3, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  7. njguy

    Comments like this don't help Republicans claw their way out of their hole. Any reasonable person living outside of the South is going to hear this and remember why they don't like this party.

    June 3, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  8. Uncle Sam

    A man was also arrested here for killing a man and dragging him
    down the road with his truck because of his race.

    Not surprising. Its South Carolina after all.

    What I don't understand is why they won't just succeed from the Union?

    June 3, 2010 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  9. vegasguy

    This bonehead does indeed represent the GOP in SC as well as on a whole. He just finally said it out loud. This is exactly what you get when all that you preach is hate, which is all that the GOP does! Hate is the true GOP message, if someone looks different or has a different name, the GOP mounts a campaign of hate against them and anyone who supports them. Hasn't America experienced enough of the politics of hate? I think we have.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    June 3, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  10. Ken, AZ

    Another bigoted idiot; so what else is new? The GOP seems to have plenty of them.

    June 3, 2010 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  11. The Big J

    She may or may not be able to keep it in her pants! But now, she's got my sympathy!

    June 3, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  12. joe blow

    south carolina is a laughingstock filled with clowns like sanford and demint. nuf said.

    June 3, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  13. jdurand1970

    **shakes head**

    What century do we live in again?

    June 3, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  14. fllguy4001

    Bravo Senator Knotts for your honesty. Your party and its followers are cowards for not speaking the truth. Instead they hide behind code phrases like "take back our country" (get the Nxxxxx out of the White House), "birther" issues and make it a point to use the President's middle name Hussein when no one else uses it (he's really a Moslem terrorist). Yes Mr. Knotts, you have my respect, at least for your honesty, and you should certainly have your constituants respect even though they themselves are too cowardice to speak their thoughts.

    June 3, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  15. Stacy Drake

    This is disgusting.. Knotts should step down and if he doesn't, he should be kicked out. There is no room in this country for this crap!

    I can't stand Obama but I would verbally rip anyone up and down for saying some racist crap about him. ANYONE!

    God bless Nikki Haley and her family, for putting up with all this garbage these jerks have thrown at her. This is how you can tell who is good in politics. The bad are larger in numbers and louder. The good are relentlessly attacked.

    June 3, 2010 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  16. Sean Dunn

    Any chance the south would want to leave the union a second time? I think we could drum up enough support to let them go this time around. Jakey is a jack...

    June 3, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    What do you expect from South Carolina? This is nothing new.

    June 3, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  18. Larry from San Antonio

    I suspect Jake Knotts is yet another good Christian. Too bad we can't simply find a way to declare the Southern states "winners" of the Civil War and force them to form their own nation of ignorant, under-educated racists. Sadly, my home in Texas is among the "Red" states, and slipping closer every day to full-blown moron status.

    June 3, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Funny how this guy showed up, as he obviously wasn't invited. What he said on air is what he says when no one is around, and everyone knows it....'that's Jakey'.

    June 3, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  20. Dan

    Stay classy there Senator. A comment like that makes me question every single person who voted him into office.

    June 3, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  21. PDinKC

    Well, there is something to be said for consistency and SC never fails us.

    June 3, 2010 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. Ryan

    Well, that's why Republican is a polite way of saying 'Racist'.

    Who's shocked?

    June 3, 2010 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  23. John

    We've certainly got a bonehead in the South Carolina Senate.

    June 3, 2010 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  24. Robrob

    Waiting for the excuses....

    June 3, 2010 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  25. P.D.

    What a disgrace! Does the GOP want to alienate EVERYBODY? Already the Hispanics are leaving in droves. African Americans have long since left. Women, particularly YOUNG women are turned off. Now a Repubilcan attacks a member of his own Party by calling her a 'Towelhead'? It looks like 2010 may not be the blow-out the GOP was bragging about.

    June 3, 2010 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
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