Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, known for speaking his mind, was caught on an open microphone saying Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is a perfect fit for Homeland Security chief because she "has no family."
Rendell made the comment Tuesday while attending a meeting of the National Governors Association in Philadelphia that featured President-elect Barack Obama, who named Napolitano to the position on Monday.
Rendell said Napolitano is "perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it."
Napolitano has never been married and has no children. Rendell's press secretary, Chuck Ardo, said Rendell meant no disrespect to Napolitano and would have made the same comment if the candidate was a man.
"The governor believes that any office holder at that level of government be it male or female has to dedicate so much time to the job that they have little time for life outside the office," Ardo said. "The governor uses himself as an example. He consistently says that he has no life."
Rendell sparked a controversy early this year when he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that there are some conservative whites in Pennsylvania "who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate." At the time, Rendell was vigorously campaigning for Hillary Clinton against Obama in the Democratic primary.
Rendell told MSNBC then that he has a habit that has "plagued" him during his entire public life. "I answer the question, and I answer it honestly," he said.
It is unclear if Rendell was answering a question when he made his remarks about Napolitano.