Lexington state Sen. Jake Knotts called political rival and Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley a "raghead" on an Internet political talk show Thursday evening.
The term is a slur typically used against Arabs or other ethnic groups who wear turbans or headdresses. Haley, a state representative from Lexington, is the child of Indian immigrants.
"We already got one raghead in the White House," Knotts said. "We don't need another in the Governor's Mansion."
According to those present and watching the show, "Pub Politics," Knotts also talked at length about Haley's parents' religion and her family. Haley was raised as a Sikh, but converted to Methodist and has said she attends both services. "Pub Politics" host Wesley Donehue said the video will be posted today.
Haley's religion was raised as an issue during her first S.C. House run in 2004, when anonymous fliers claimed — inaccurately — that she was a Hindu. Haley won the race, unseating the House's longest-serving lawmaker.
Haley is in a four-way contest for governor. Knotts is a longtime ally of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who is also running for governor. Wednesday, Bauer campaign consultant Larry Marchant said he had a one-time sexual encounter with Haley in 2008. Bauer asked Marchant to resign, but Haley accused Bauer of "fishing" the story to the press. The allegation was the second in as many weeks against Haley, who has maintained she has been faithful to her husband of 13 years.
Though they both hail from Lexington, Knotts and Haley have been adversaries, as they represent opposing wings of the county's Republican Party. Haley is a longtime supporter of Gov. Mark Sanford, who has been a Knotts adversary.
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