Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is standing by her remarks that she is struggling for re-election because she is a woman and President Obama is unpopular in her state because he is black.
In a statement released late Friday, Landrieu said, “the South has not always been the friendliest or easiest place for African Americans to advance, and it's been a difficult place for women to be recognized as the leaders we are. Everyone knows this is the truth,and I will continue to speak the truth even as some would twist my words seeking political advantage.”
Landrieu, who is in a tight race to keep her Senate seat, touched off a furor earlier this week in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd when she said, “To 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. It’s not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place, so we’ve had to work a little bit harder on that.”
The chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party called on Landrieu to apologize for the remarks.
“That Mary Landrieu would ascribe ugly racial motivations to voters’ displeasure with the policies advanced by President Obama and her shows both how out of touch and how desperate she is. Senator Landrieu’s comments are insulting to me and to every other Louisianian,” Roger Villere said in a statement.
Tea Party-aligned candidate Rob Maness also called on Landrieu to apologize.
"Quite frankly, Sen. Landrieu owes the people of Louisiana an apology for relegating them to nothing but racists and sexists," he said in a statement.
Her original remarks were also immediately attacked by her main opponent, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. Cassidy told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly the people of Louisiana have suffered under Obama’s policies, and instead of insulting them Landrieu needs to focus on policy.
“I gotta tell ya, when people in Louisiana look at ObamaCare and his regulatory regime and him going after their jobs, that’s the reason they oppose him, that’s the reason they oppose her,” he said. “She supports him 97 percent of the time. We’re not racist, we just all have common sense.”
Landrieu’s comments came as a new poll showed Cassidy and Landrieu in a virtual tie, indicating the race will likely go to a runoff. Under Louisiana’s system, if no candidate reaches over 50 percent of the votes the top two vote-getters head to a December runoff.