CHARLOTTE — Republicans are fuming after the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Dick Harpootlian, made a joke about Gov. Nikki Haley (R) here Wednesday that compared her with Eva Braun.
On the floor of the Democratic National Convention, members of the South Carolina delegation gathered just before the start of Wednesday night’s session kept their distance from the quip, but stood by their party chair who is known in the Palmetto State for a sharp tongue.
South Carolina newspaper The State reported Harpootlian made a quip Wednesday morning comparing his state’s Republican governor to Hitler’s wife.
On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”
The remark quickly drew rebukes from Republicans.
“Another out of line comment from a Dem party chair,” tweeted RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. Other Republicans said Harpootlian was calling Haley a Nazi.
Harpootlian refused to apologize for the comment, and declined to say what he meant by the line.
“Hell no. What am I apologizing for?” he told CNN. He said Haley was “feigning” being offended by the comment.
“I don’t even know if Eva Braun was a Nazi or not, but I know she dated one,” Harpootlian said. “I wasn’t trying to insinuate that Nikki was a Nazi. I was saying that she was hanging out in an insular bunker in Charlotte when she won’t give access to the press here in South Carolina.”
On the convention floor, South Carolina Democrats defended Harpootlian as a leader, but didn’t want to take ownership for his comment.
“Oh yeah I sort of remember him saying something about Nikki Haley in a basement,” said delegate Barbara Bowers of Richland County, S.C. “I don’t remember this Eva Braun thing though.”
She quickly changed the subject.
Jonathan Metcalf, a delegate and South Carolina Democratic political operative, dismissed the line as Harpootlian being Harpootlian.
“Did he say it again this morning? Dick gets a little carried away sometimes,” Metcalf said. “But the truth of the matter is that we have not have the benefit of a strong voice for our party until he became our chair. And he does bring attention to the fact that there’s more than one party in the state of South Carolina.”
He seemed to back the idea that South Carolina Republicans doth protest too much, saying Harpootlian’s just giving it as good as Democrats get it in the Palmetto State.
“We don’t have to agree with everything he says because it’s party politics, so he can be a little rough, a little harsh,” Metacalf said of Harpootlian. “But we like to put it this way: You know in a football game when the guy gets the flag for the personal foul? That’s the second hit. So if you’ve got a problem with Harpootlian you haven’t been paying attention to our crazy tea party people.”