South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, is facing demands from state Democrats to apologize for a comment that used to refer to them during a GOP event over the weekend.
“I look forward to the day when Democrats are so weird we have to hunt them down with dogs,” McMaster said in a state republican conventionreporter for the newspaper El Estado, Joseph Bustos, tweeted during the event.
McMaster’s comment quickly drew condemnation from South Carolina Democrats, who called for an apology from the Republican governor.
The Anderson County Democratic Party shared a petition in line with a statement from its president, Chris Salley, asking McMaster to apologize and “remove this racially tinged dog whistle” and for the South Carolina State Division of Law Enforcement to open an investigation “into this threat and incitement to political violence” if the governor refuses to do so.
“As a black gay man in America, I have had to be on my guard for people trying to ‘hunt’ me for most of my life and I know thousands of people in South Carolina are forced to feel the same way,” Salley saying. “This rhetoric emboldens violent extremists, chills political discourse, and it must stop.”
Christale Spain, chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, denounced McMaster’s comments as “absolutely chilling” hear.
“The majority of the Democratic electorate in SC is black and our governor says loudly that he can’t wait to hunt us down with dogs,” Spain, who is also black, tweeted. “It is absolutely chilling to hear this. Governor of the South who knows our history”.
Responding to protests from Democrats, a McMaster spokesman, Brandon Charochak, said the governor had made the same comment at previous Republican conventions and that “South Carolinians understand every day that this is a joke.”
“If South Carolina Democratic supporters can no longer stand the lighthearted jokes being made at their expense, then perhaps they should focus their energy on winning and not whining,” Charochak said in a statement.
McMaster previously referred to Democrats as “dogs” in remarks at a barbecue event in 2018, The State reported.
“Our Democratic friends are a lot like dogs. One on one, they are very nice, but in a pack they are dangerous,” McMaster said at the 2018 event, the State reported. “So I tell you, we can’t slack off. We have to go hard. And in South Carolina we are making progress, and it is because we have a president … Donald Trump, who is one of the greatest we have ever had or will ever have.”