The Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party is refusing to apologize after he compared his state’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley to Adolf Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun.
Dick Harpootlian, a tart-tongued Columbia attorney known for his off-color and sometimes inflammatory rhetoric, made the analogy after Haley showed up at the Democratic National Convention earlier this week to offer a GOP response to the proceedings in Charlotte.
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Haley had appeared at a Republican press conference which was held in the basement of a Charlotte office building. On Wednesday morning, Harpootlian told South Carolina Democrats that Haley “was down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”
That prompted immediate calls for an apology from Republicans, and even some South Carolina Democrats, who accused the party chairman of comparing the governor to a Nazi.
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey called Harpootlian an “attention-starved trial lawyer” whose “carnival-huckster act shames South Carolina Democrats of good faith, of which we know there are many."
Reached by phone Wednesday, Harpootlian told CNN he isn’t backing down.
“Hell no. What am I apologizing for?,” he said when asked if he would apologize. “This is fake. Nikki Haley is feigning this. There is not a sincere bone in her body.”
“I don’t even know if Eva Braun was a Nazi or not, but I know she dated one,” he continued. “I wasn’t trying to insinuate that Nikki was a Nazi. I was saying that she was hanging out in an insular bunker in Charlotte when she won’t give access to the press here in South Carolina.”
Harpootlian accused Haley of taking a “meat axe” to reporters and political enemies in Columbia and said she should have thicker skin.
“So she has some hurt feelings? I didn’t know she had feelings,” he said.
Harpootlian’s comments caught the attention of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, which has tried to drive a wedge between President Obama and Jewish voters throughout the 2012 race.
Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who chairs the Romney campaign’s Jewish coalition, called Harpootlian’s comments “outrageous” and said “it’s time for the President to rein in those of his supporters and allies who are trivializing Nazism while also shamelessly trampling on the most basic rules of American political discourse.”