South Carolina Democratic party chairman Dick Harpootlian on Friday assured Democrats that next year, their party’s challenger will “send Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from.”
Harpootlian made the remark as he introduced Vice President Joe Biden at the Democrats’ annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Columbia, S.C. Raised in South Carolina, Haley is the daughter of Sikh immigrants. Harpootlian denied, however, that his remark could be construed as a derogatory reference to her ethnicity, telling Politico’s Jonathan Martin, “No, she was born in Bamberg [S.C.,] and lived in Lexington. Anybody implying anything different is attempting to feign insult.”
A long time leader in the Democratic party, Harpootlian is known for making controversial statements — and this is not the first he has uttered them about Haley, the state’s first Indian-American governor. At last year’s Democratic National Convention, he compared Haley to Hitler’s mistress; after she participated in a press conference from a basement television studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., Harpootlian said she was “down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.” Though Haley demanded an apology, Harpootlian refused to apologize for the remark.
A spokesman for Haley accused Harpootlian of “play[ing] to the lowest common denominator.”
Harpootlian was replaced on Friday as head of South Carolina’s Democratic party by Jaime Harrison, the first African American to hold the position.