By
Jansing & Co.
updated 5/7/2013 2:46:01 PM ET 2013-05-07T18:46:01

On Tuesday longtime Democratic leader Dick Harpootlian further explained his controversial remarks about South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley last week, declaring that she needs to return to her job as an accountant instead of being a fraudulent governor.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley needs to go “back to being an accountant in a dress store rather than being this fraud of a governor that we have,” the state’s Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said on Tuesday.

Harpootlian, a longtime Democratic leader, last week reportedly told supporters at a South Carolina Democratic Party dinner he hoped in 18 months that Nikki Haley’s challenger would send her “back to wherever the hell she came from.” Haley was born in South Carolina, and her parents are from India.

Harpootlian told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing that he apologized Monday for his remarks. He is the grandson of immigrants, unlike Haley, who he said is not from India.

“She is from Bamberg, S.C., where she was an accountant in her parent’s clothing store called ‘Exotica,’ ” he said on the show.

Haley was also attacked by Republicans for her ethnicity during her 2010 campaign and for her current governorship.

“Unfortunately, this seems to be a trend coming from the South Carolina Democratic Party,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey told BuzzFeed on Friday. “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.”

South Carolina voters went to the polls on Tuesday for the state’s special election.

Video: South Carolina Party chairman square off over Sanford-Colbert-Busch matchup

  1. Closed captioning of: South Carolina Party chairman square off over Sanford-Colbert-Busch matchup

    >>> well, anything can happen in the closely watched congressional race in south carolina . for the last three hours voters have been going to the polls to decide if scandal-ridden ex-governor mark sanford gets another turn at politics or if democrat elizabeth colbert bush wins a huge upset in the conservative first district. now, the polls show the special election is so tight the night could end with no clear winner. south carolina 's democratic party chair dick har pulian and chad connolly. good morning.

    >> good morning to you.

    >> dick, watching this very closely. there have been swings in the polls, wild swings in the headlines. and yet the candidates now seem to be tied according to a weekend public policy poll. so what are you watching for tonight to tell you which way this is going to go?

    >> well,' we are looking at turnout. the -- i mean, this is a 60% republican district in which elizabeth colbert bush is tied with the republican mark sanford , which is testimony to how hard she's campaigned and the great job she's done and what a damaged candidate he is. we're looking and already this morning we're seeing pretty good turnout in what we would call democratic wards and prints and a somewhat subdued turnout in some of the republican prints. but it's early yet. this will be nip and tuck. there was a special election in the state senate district in this congressional district last year where the republican won by only 14 votes. so every vote is going to count and it may come down to, as you say, a recount or just a few votes one way or the other.

    >> obviously turnout. women. a lot of people suggesting maybe it will be difficult for republican women either to turn out or, chad, to vote for someone who so publicly cheated on his wife. democrats are predicting if colbert bush can win 20% of republican voters it's game over for sanford . do you agree with that assess assessment?

    >> well, i was with the governor yesterday. we campaigned all over the district. the same kind of anecdotal evidence dick's given, i'm seeing the same stuff. we talked to a lot of women, tom independents, some republicans, some democrats. we didn't hear that. it's like there's a national media nary they've wants to make this all about mark sanford . he made voters in congressional district one realize they don't have nancy pelosi as speaker of the house again.

    >> mark sanford talked about that on " morning joe " today. let me play that for you.

    >> nancy pelosi and associated groups didn't pour in more than a million dollars of this race for independents. they poured it in for a safe vote and it really has much to do with the present strategy of taking back the house in 2014 .

    >> dick, if there is an upset here, could it reverberate into 20 to 14?

    >> well, i think it would reverberate in the sense that the republicans keep nominating damaged candidates like mark sanford , murdoch up in illinois or o'donnell in delaware. and that's what happens when the tea party dominates their primary. all they can do is try to boogeyman the democrat to death with pelosi or -- and by the way, elizabeth colbert bush is a conservative democrat , a business woman, unlike mark sanfo sanford . she's had a job where she ha to put groceries on the table. she wasn't born at third base telling everybody she hit a triple. i'd be careful taking a road trip with mark sanford , if i were you, chad. that could turn out very badly i hear.

    >> if we want to look at big-picture stuff, i'm wondering, chad, if this tells us about the public's ability to -- i don't know how you want to phrase it but forgive, forget, absorb what are clear transgressions, character issues?

    >> well, special elections are always quirky. dick's right, it's all about turno turnout. wifs the governor yesterday and we talked about redemption, the story of king david in the bible. the ultimate redem,inptionredemption, everybody he went through. i think his sincerity has come out in all of this. it was just a few years ago that democrats told us that private lives didn't matter and it was all about what you did in public. governor sanford has a solid voting record, a solid record of being a fiscal and social conservative . i think the voters in congressional district one are going to put him back in the congress.

    >> i have to ask you, dick, before i let you both go, about that controversial comment you made last week about governor nikki haley where you said you hope in 18 months, you hope her challenger sends her back to wherever the hell she came from and this country can move forward. the governor is from south carolina , although her parents are from india. do you wish you could take that back?

    >> well, i mean, i apologized yesterday if anyone inferred -- i'm the grandson of immigrants. she's not from india. she is from --

    >> she is an indian.

    >> pardon me?

    >> go ahead. you were saying she's from the county.

    >> she's from banburg, south carolina , where she was an accountant in her parents' clothing store called exotica. all i'm suggesting is she needs to go back to being an accountant in a dress store rather than being this fraud of a governor that we have.

    >> dick and chad, you have an interesting night ahead. expecting to get any sleep?

    >> i think we both think it's going to go pretty late.

    >> yeah.

    >> so, no, we're not counting on getting a lot of sleep.

    >> a point ot which they agree.

    >> hoping for a celebration.

    >> good to have you together on the show. thank you.

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