Nikki Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, should “go back to wherever the hell she came from.”
This statement made by Dick Harpootlian, the chairman of the state’s Democrat Party, has been perceived as having racial overtones concerning Nikki Haley’s heritage. Haley, who was born in South Carolina, is the daughter of Indian immigrants.
In introducing Vincent Sheheen — who is expected to runn against Haley in 2014 when she is up for re-election — at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner Friday night, Harpootlian said that “In about 18 months from now, hopefully he’ll have sent Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from.”
When asked to clarify his remarks, Harpootlian claimed in an e-mail that he meant “Lexington County.”
Harpootlian may also be wrong on his geography: “Before being elected governor in 2010, Haley lived in the suburban Columbia county and represented the area in the state House.”
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey was not impressed with Harpootlian’s lame attempt at humor or whatever it was: “Unfortunately, this seems to be a trend coming from the South Carolina Democratic Party. Fortunately, the people of South Carolina are better than Harpootlian and his ilk, and we have faith that they will see right through their consistent attempts to play to the lowest common denominator.”
Harpootlian has a history of these kinds of personal attacks. At the Democrat National Convention last September, Harpootlian compared Haley to Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun and refused to apologize.
This is also not the first time that Haley’s political opponents have played what appears to be the race card against her: “Haley has weathered — and effectively jiu-jitsued — attacks on her ethnicity during her 2010 campaign and her governorship, first from Republicans and more recently from her Democratic foes. (One state Democratic official labeled her the “Sikh Jesus.”) And voters have, if anything, rallied around her against the perceived slurs.”
Despite Harpootlian’s bluster, Haley will very likely be re-elected in 2014, and the governor’s mansion will remain in GOP hands.
Separately, on Tuesday, South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District special election will decide who will go to Congress — former Gov. Mark Sanford or Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch.
Do you think Dick Harpootlian was race baiting? Watch the clip below and decide for yourself.