COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Republican Party pounced Tuesday on what it calls Sen. Vincent Sheheen's sexist slur against Gov. Nikki Haley, while the Democratic challenger insisted he simply misspoke.
At a campaign speech in Florence late last week, Sheheen said Democrats would escort Haley out the door — however, an apparent slip of the tongue led him to say "whore" instead of "her." He quickly corrected himself. But he did laugh along with the audience after appearing to realize his gaffe, as captured on video by the Florence Morning News.
"All right, calm down out there," he said after several seconds of chuckling.
On Tuesday, the state GOP thanked Ann Romney for blasting Sheheen's comment in an interview on CNN. The party's email, which provided a link to the interview, highlighted Romney saying she was appalled that Sheheen's remark didn't receive more scrutiny. The email also sought a donation of at least $25.
"I'm not going to repeat what Vincent Sheheen said about Gov. Nikki Haley. It's a disgusting thing to say about any woman," read the email signed by state GOP Chairman Matt Moore. "You can bet if a Republican said anything like what Vincent Sheheen said," the media would "cover it endlessly."
A spokeswoman for the wife of the GOP's 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney did not respond to phone or email messages from The Associated Press seeking an interview.
Sheheen said Tuesday he garbled the word and corrected it.
"I clearly said her, H-E-R. I misspoke and I corrected it after. We need to focus on things that matter," he said. "If we're going to debate my garbling the word 'her' when I quickly said it again — because I always do that if my words get garbled — just shows how Gov. Haley and her supporters want to distract this state from the issues that matter."
This is Sheheen's second contest against Haley, who won by 4.5 percentage points in 2010. Polls suggest she'll win by a larger margin this time in a state that's considered deeply red.
Associated Press writer Jeffrey Collins in Greenville contributed to this report.