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. No Hillary = No Obama

    The party of the people, huh?

    August 31, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  2. Peter E

    Yes... God punishes the republicans... by destroying a mostly democratic city? It wasn't just a mean comment, it was also plain stupid.

    August 31, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. Duke

    An equally sorry day was the video where Repubs wanted everyone to pray for rain during Obama's Denver speech. You can't have it both ways folks. The Repubs started this stupid crap. And stop trying to call on Obama to denounce anything until McLowIQ denounces the fierce unjust attacks of the last several weeks. People have alot of nerve.

    August 31, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. richard j

    yep. obama's weird rise to power is something that has certainly divided the democratic party. I respect Hillary for standing up to the 'weirdness' – I mean comeon, there 800+ superdelegates that are not earned in the traditional way. . . they are how obama 'earned' his spot

    August 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  5. joe m

    isn't it nice for the dems that their 'party' was not interupted. disturbing that the party that claims to be for the average citizen has members who can be so glib about the suffering of these very same citizens. after katrina no one was laughing and making jokes, and i doubt that there will be any after gustav. as for the explanation, it just made it worse. fowler just needs to say he made a stupid comment and get done with it and eat crow.

    August 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  6. Steve

    Some of these democrats are a disgrace to humanity...and not just their radical left-wing policies, but just their common decency. I hope McCain makes these fools cry in November. Disgusting!

    August 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  7. domyresearch

    McCains staff has their NERVE.

    I guess they weren't thinking about good taste when they put on the ad about Obama being like Moses.

    August 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  8. Dealt

    Not in the best of taste, I agree. But didn't the Republicans pray for rain during the democrat convention? Silly things in serious moments. It happens to both sides... and sometimes cameras and recorders are around. He apologized for being caught. So, all's well as comments go. I just wish Republicans would stop being SOOOO SILLY and pretendimg to be horrified when the gaffe is by the other side.

    August 31, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. Scott L

    Nice try covering tracks with Falwell's remarks, but nowhere does he mention Falwell at all. It is a grim statement and one that was definitely in poor taste. Glad they are sitting in their jet mocking the tragedy of others. If i was a NOLA resident and heard someone making light of their situation, I would make darn sure I pulled the lever for the men at top in charge today who are truly doing their jobs and that would be Bush and the rest of the Republican party.

    Sad day for Democrats, that is for sure.

    August 31, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  10. markbaker

    lets not forget...

    Right wing McCain endorser james Dobson's Focus on the Family member prayed for God to unleash torrential rain on Obama's speech...

    Right wing McCain endorser Hagee said God send Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans

    so.... lets not go there.

    August 31, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. Sam Rose

    that was a really STUPID thing for him to say--

    August 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. Adam

    I call on McCain to denounce those calling Obama's commitment to country in question. I call on McCain to denounce the stupid celebrity ads. The fact remains that you can't control everything that a supporter says. He is not a member of the campaign, so let it be.

    August 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Linda in Atlanta


    August 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  14. Democrats you are looking foolish


    As a life long democrat I have never been so ashamed of my own party as I have been this election.

    Democrats lost all sense of purpose, their ideals and values.

    They got so caught up in the IDEA of Obama- just like Hitler Youth did in Germany- and they lost their own vision, sense of justice and morality.

    Hate, bigotry, sexism, insults, off-color jokes at the expense of others became the norm.

    The primary was disgusting with it's hateful attacks and denigration. Now it has spilled over into joking about natural disasters that devastate people's lives.

    August 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. lil

    Obama didnt say it somebody else did but you know cnn will tell people to blame Obama.

    August 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. Jason

    Well wasn't it some of the conservatives that prayed the DNC would be rain out, lol! I call this KARMA!!

    August 31, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. RB

    Idiot. No doubt this is going to be Obama's fault. Everything every democrat does is Obama's fault.

    August 31, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  18. Scott Pruden

    Dobson and a lot of other Right-Wingers said Katrina was God's judgement on New Orleans

    The same guys said AIDS was God's judgement as well, and had a senile President believe them

    Conservatives own the market in "joke(ing) about the misery and suffering of others." That's pretty much the extent of Republican humor

    August 31, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. nkm

    Too many "responsible" people on the democratic side have made irresponsible comments; Don Fowler is the latest example. I wonder what more to expect during the next two months. With Biden around, I suspect there will be plenty.

    August 31, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. Fred Puma

    I am not a Republican but I find Fowlers comments to be very polarizing and I hope not typical of Obama's followers.

    This is despicable behaviour of a senior former DNC Chairman.
    Where is your decency ??!!! Have you lost it all ???

    You need to loose your jobs over this !!!

    August 31, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  21. Lynette Stapleton

    This is about as low as you can get
    To see this terrible catastrophe as an opportunity for the Obama campaign – is sick politics

    August 31, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. Paula

    This doesn't upset me as much as the Republicans insulting us women with their excuse for a vp pick or the fact that want to use a disaster for a Mcain photo op.How pathetic.Guess God seems to be voicing his own opinion on all of us.

    August 31, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  23. Walt, Belton,TX

    Fowler and Moore: now there's a duo that fell out of the back of a horse. Pathetic!

    August 31, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  24. ex republican

    Republicans prayed for rain at Obama's nomination speech and this is what they got!!!!!!

    August 31, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    I regrett any devastation the hurricane will bring to the people who live in the region. But I don't see how the GOP could be upset about Mr. Folllower's comment. Where was the GOP when a religious group paryed for rain on the day that Obama would deliver his acceptance speech in open stadiium?

    August 31, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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