NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama’s deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.
In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Landrieu was quoted as saying that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”
The comments came after an NBC reporter asked the senator why Obama has such low approval ratings in Louisiana. Landrieu’s first response was that the president’s energy policies are deeply disliked by residents of the oil and gas-rich state.
She then added, “I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
Landrieu is locked in a tight re-election battle with Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, and is targeted by Republicans nationally in their efforts to retake control of the Senate. Republican and tea-party favorite Rob Maness is polling in a distant third place.
State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere issued a statement late Thursday calling Landrieu’s remarks “insulting to me and to every other Louisianian.”
“Louisiana deserves better than a senator who denigrates her own people by questioning and projecting insidious motives on the very people she claims to represent,” he said. “Senator Landrieu and President Obama are unpopular for no other reason than the fact the policies they advance are wrong for Louisiana and wrong for America.”
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a statement calling Landrieu’s comments “remarkably divisive” and Maness issued a statement calling on the senator to apologize.
Landrieu’s campaign declined to comment Thursday night.