[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/31/art.fowler.cnn.jpg 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 RedState.org 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.
"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.”