South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian, who said Friday that he intends to help send Indian-American Republican Gov. Nikki Haley “back to wherever the hell she came from,” was a major campaign bundler who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for President Barack Obama, records reveal.
Obama has yet to condemn Harpootlian’s statement, which a Haley spokesman called “the lowest common denominator.”
Harpootlian made his remark at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Friday, shortly before a speech by Vice President Joe Biden. Harpootlian introduced 2014 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Vincent Sheehen with the controversial remark.
“In about 18 months from now, hopefully he’ll have sent Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from,” Harpootlian said as the crowd reportedly broke into cheers and applause.
Republican criticism of the remark was swift.
National Republican Senatorial Committee strategist Brad Dayspring tweeted, “Imagine if a top Republican told a minority Dem woman Guv to ‘go back to wherever the hell she came from.’”
Harpootlian defended his remark, stating that he does not mean to help Sheehen send Haley back to India, but rather back to her South Carolina hometown.
“Lexington County.. she was born in Bamberg [South Carolina] and lived in Lexington. Anybody implying anything different is attempting to feign insult,” Harpootlian said.
Harpootlian raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Obama campaign, according to a disclosure of Obama for America and Obama Victory Fund 2012 volunteer fundraisers.
Harpootlian has a history of making provocative and at times racially-charged statements.
During the 2008 Democratic presidential primary race in South Carolina, Harpootlian pounced on Bill Clinton’s comparison of Obama to Jesse Jackson, calling Clinton’s comment “reprehensible and reminiscent of Lee Atwater,” the late Republican operative who was accused by Democrats of using racially divisive tactics.
In September 2012, Harpootlian compared Haley to Adolf Hitler’s love Eva Braun, saying, in regard to Haley conducting an interview in a basement, that Haley was “down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”