August 31st, 2008
08:06 PM ET
13 years ago

Dem apologizes for joking about hurricane


[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A YouTube video shows Fowler joking about Gustav."](CNN) - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler apologized Sunday for recently joking Hurricane Gustav's expected landfall on the same day as the opening of the Republican National Convention suggested God was on the Democrats' side.

A YouTube video of the comments posted by the conservative blog and showed Fowler joking with South Carolina Rep. John Spratt about the timing of the hurricane while on a flight from the Democratic National Convention back to South Carolina. The person who filmed the conversation is not identified.

“The hurricane is going to hit New Orleans about the time they start. The timing is, at least it appears now, it will be there Monday. That just demonstrates God is on our side,” Fowler said, while laughing. Fowler also told Spratt that “everything’s cool.”

Speaking to the Associated Press Sunday, Fowler said his comments were intended to make light of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's remark that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was God's punishment for abortion and homosexuality.

On Sunday, Fowler told The Associated Press that he was making fun of comments made by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said the attacks were God's punishment for abortion, homosexuality and other sins.

"I don't believe in a God that's vengeful," Fowler said. "I believe in a God that's compassionate."

"This is a point of national concern. I think everybody of good will has great empathy and sympathy for people in New Orleans," Fowler also said. "Most religious people are praying for people in New Orleans. There is no political connotation to this whatsoever. This was just poking fun at Jerry Falwell and the nonsensical thing he had said several years ago."

South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson sharply criticized Fowler's comments, saying, “The outrageous behavior of two of the Obama campaign's highest profile supporters in the south is despicable, a cynical polarization of life and death. I call on Barack Obama to immediately denounce Fowler and Spratt and demand sincere apologies from these members of the Democratic leadership.”

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soundoff (264 Responses)
  1. DK

    It has become inceasingly clear that CNN has made a predetermination that their ratings require them to keep the presidential race as close as possible through their polls and nightly/daily commentaries to uplift McCain and diminish Obama. If anyone out there shares my view and believes in decency and fair play, I urge you to register your distain by boycotting cnn until the third presidential debate and turning your television channel to another channel. Ibelieve that this sort of action will appropriately refocus this network to report the news as opposed to making it. DK

    August 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  2. Mathilde

    It was clearly an ironic a joke about the religious right! I think it was in poor taste, but to claim that it was taking the effects of a hurricane lightly is to forget that it was our dear President Bush who did that 3 years ago. Irony.

    August 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  3. steve

    would anyone disagree that falwell's comments were hateful?

    August 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  4. Hit the road Jack

    I'm just SO proud of the democratic party.

    Haven't they been the model of grace, equality, respect and justice.

    Remember how wonderful they treated their own loyal party base during the primary?

    Remember the deference and respect they showed the great champion of the people- HRC?

    Now that Obama stole the nomination, the Obamation and its thugs are gearing up. Respect, sensitivity, tolerance- those things are not in their vocabulary.

    They prefer the vulgar, nasty, dirty tricks that Obama encourages them to use to ensure he wins.

    Sorry folks... not for me. I prefer inclusiveness and grace and empathy and respect.

    August 31, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  5. White and Black support for Obama

    Look guys, this is a weapon for those who hate DNC and every little talk will be tie to Obama, even if he was not aware or no nothing about the person who made the comment.

    There are some DNC member who do like OBAMA as well and this period they talk bull.... to make Obama looks bad.

    One thing you should know, Obama is out there campaigning hard tell you his feeling about suffering people and his hater will tie other people's comment to him. That is shameful.

    Black people suffer most last time, but every America felt the shame when our government failed to act. Please please do not tie this to Obama....

    August 31, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. Sarah Palin=Phyllis Schafly

    Gosh, you never know who to trust on a flight...or anywhere for that matter.

    How does drivel like this story get on a CNN site?

    August 31, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  7. exhausted

    I am completely exhausted with this whole bickering back and forth. it's very sickening to hear people bash a man for daring to change America. Republicans are so desperate at this time that some are willing to just about sell their souls to get Mc Cain and Palin, two flip floppers if I've ever seen any, into the White House. If I recall correctly, Obama has just recently started his attacking. during the primaries, he was the one attacked and he still WON fair and square! How could he have single handedly divided the party??? WOW! I understand u are bitter because Hillary didn't win but ur absolutely ridiculous. The party is divided because of people like you who refuse to accept the fact that Obama won the primaries..if u don 't want to vote for Obama that's ur choice. u obviously rather see Republicans controlling the White House for another 4 years which is fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Just keep your mouth shut for the next four years!

    August 31, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  8. Bruce

    Right, what a caring party of the people...

    BTW, the NO people are from his party...oops

    August 31, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  9. Get a Grip

    Where were all of you people with your self-righteous indignation when that preacher jokenly asked everyone to pray for rain during Obama's acceptance speech at Vesco field?

    Then some poster said: "Democrats are always committing the sin and then lying saying Republicans are doing it." Is this person on the level? You see what I mean by 'self-righteous'? Didn't Paul teach that we have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God? Doesn't that include REPUBLICANS as well? Geeez, some people sure act high and mighty.

    August 31, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  10. Danielle

    To even think something like that is just sad and pathetic. How disgusting.

    August 31, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  11. Trasa, Texas

    To get in the middle of the road, the government PERIOD failed the people of New Orleans and other gulf coastal areas when they didn't make much of an effort the last time, so cut the crap about the party of the people. It's about making them all responsible that we are American citizens and needed to be treated with humanity. True, since Bush was the head honcho he too needed to have done more, and great that they are trying to do something now. I guess you can use that saying better late than never.

    August 31, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  12. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Stupid comment. I'm sure that James Dobson of Focus on the Family who told his followers to pray for rain of biblical proportions during Obama's acceptance speech will be especially outraged.

    August 31, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  13. Ms. Frizzle

    Mr. Fowler's remarks were tasteless and inappropriate.
    The Democratic Party which at one time was a respected political party is now nothing more than a group of people who bite, bicker and backstab.
    Thank goodness my father never lived to see what the Democratic Party has become. If he would have this would have definitely turned him into a Republican.

    August 31, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  14. P. MacCnaimhin

    Don Fowler "apologized" for his remarks and then later called the person who recorded him a "right wing nutcase". He explained that his remarks were intended to be facetious and satirical and reflective of comments by the late Jerry Falwell. That means, I suppose, that we are all supposed to laugh. Well, HA, HA, HA. Now the dictionary defines the word facetious as humorous, amusing, and entertaining and satire as the use of mockery and derision.

    Now if Don Fowler really thinks that the residents of New Orleans might enjoy a good laugh at the impending devastation coming their way and that the ridiculing of both the late Rev. Falwell and the person who recorded Fowler’s remarks constitutes an apology, then he doesn’t have to do any more than look in the mirror to find the real “nutcase”.

    August 31, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. Tyler in Raleigh

    Wait.... didnt Pat Robertson blame Katrina on gays in New Orleans???

    Didn't another televangelist say they should pray for rain on the night of Obama's speech???

    There is bad taste all around, stupid politicians and preachers on both sides.

    August 31, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  16. matt

    You apologize by saying "I was wrong. I am sorry." You do not apologize by blaming a dead preacher for you poor judgment.

    August 31, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  17. curt

    just typical of the dems.....can you imagine the headlines if a republican said something like this?

    August 31, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  18. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    Jerry is spinning in his grave. This is not even big news.

    August 31, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  19. pat d

    It's almost an insult to hear "God" coming from the lips of these leaders of the Democrat party.
    I wouldn't hold my breath for an apology from any of them.

    August 31, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  20. pam

    An unfortunate comment made about a life and death situation for people in harms way but.... We are seeing more responses to the Carl Rove, Dr. Dobson and Rush Limbaugh type of strategizing. thinking and public speak. People sometimes without thinking first respond in negitive ways because they are simply tired of being beaten down by these unyielding hacks. Dobson had people praying for a rain out in Mile High stadium! Do you seriously call this preacher a person with moral or ethical correctness?

    Fowler has apologized for his private statement to Spratt. Of course it can be made into something public because of a rude recorder phone snoop who wanted a moment in the gotcha sun. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN PERIOD!

    August 31, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  21. Cynthia

    I would rather have a stupid comment rather than a stupid action anyday. McCain's pick of Palin borders on being insane. Who wants someone with no foreign policy or national security a heartbeat aways from the Presidency. She is also under an ethics investigation, who has said some questionable things in the media and who knows what she won't say on the campaign trail and in the the debates.

    August 31, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  22. RO

    Remember, just a couple of weeks ago, Rev. Dodson who is an ultra right conservative who asked for all to pray for bad weather for Obama's speech? You can't control what an individual say and then blame it on a political party! Gosh, folks!

    August 31, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  23. Keith

    Oh please Anonymous. Quit using "swiftboating" in such a negative way. You and I both know that the swiftboaters in 2004 were factually accurate with their claims, and that the spinmasters in the media and abroad have given the term it's negative meaning. Honestly, I'd just wish people would actually look up the claims of the ad before making such ridiculous comments...

    August 31, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  24. MartiM

    Well, I guess it's as stupid as Focus on the Family praying for rain on the DNC convention. People say dumb things – but surely politicians constantly in the public eye should know better?

    August 31, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  25. Jeff

    Let's not get our knickers all twisted over it. It was only a joke – maybe not too tactful but get over it. Democrats can be just as stupid as Republicans – in many ways Democrats tend to be sarcastic and Repubs insensitive, so what's worse?

    August 31, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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