Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Arizona Senator John McCain, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Speaker of the House and current CNN host Newt Gingrich have all condemned National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent for describing President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel." Nugent has reportedly offered a half-hearted apology for his remark.
Nugent's racist slur of Obama came while he was representing the Outdoor Channel at a January gun industry trade show. In an interview with Guns.com, Nugent also called Obama a "gangster" and suggested that he should face the "just due punishment" for treason. This week, a maelstrom of controversy erupted around Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with the inflammatory Nugent.
Abbott has quietly distanced himself from Nugent -- he will no longer appear at campaign events -- but has not publicly condemned Nugent's "subhuman mongrel" comment. A number of prominent conservatives, however, have offered varying levels of condemnation for Nugent's remark:
- Texas Governor Rick Perry, who Abbott hopes to succeed, said on CNN that Nugent "shouldn't have said that about the President of the United States ... I got a problem calling the president a mongrel. I do have a problem with that. That is an inappropriate thing to say." When CNN host Wolf Blitzer suggested that Nugent should apologize, Perry said, "I'll recommend that he do that."
- During an interview with CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) repeatedly dodged questions about the Nugent-Abbott controversy, but did acknowledge, "Look, those sentiments there, of course I don't agree with them. You've never heard me say such a thing, nor would I." Cruz also said, "I don't hang out with Ted Nugent," although Nugent has claimed otherwise.
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on CNN's Piers Morgan Live, "It's a free country but that kind of language really doesn't have any place in our political dialogue. It harms the Republican Party. I'm sure that it harmed that candidate there. And it should be obviously repudiated ... That kind of thing is beyond the pale, and I hope that our candidate down there learned a lesson." McCain said that if he were Abbott he would distance himself completely from Nugent because "I am a severe critic of President Obama particularly on national security, but that kind of language -- he is the President of the United States, he has been elected and reelected, and I believe we should treat him respectfully."
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted, "Ted Nugent's derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize.
- CNN host Newt Gingrich disagreed with Wolf Blitzer that Nugent's "subhuman mongrel" comment should cause controversy for Abbott on the February 18 edition of The Situation Room. While Gingrich complained that the media ignores supposedly similar comments from liberal celebrities, he said, "What Ted Nugent said was stupid, I don't support it," and, "I'm not defending Ted Nugent, I think what he said was wrong and he shouldn't have said it."
The vast majority of conservative media, which counts WND columnist Nugent as one of its own, has remained silent on Nugent's offensive comment about Obama. As MSNBC and CNN began covering the brewing controversy on February 18, Fox News ignored the story altogether. According to a search of internal video archives, Fox has still yet to weigh in on what has become a national story.
Two conservative columnists, however, have bucked the trend. Writing for the Washington Times, editor emeritus Wesley Pruden acknowledged that Abbott had shown "poor judgment" by campaigning with Nugent and added, "No office-seeker needs help from someone with a mouth like that."
Rare columnist Jack Hunter -- whose own controversial past as anonymous neo-Confederate blogger the "Southern Avenger" recently caused headlines -- cited Ted Nugent as "why black people think Republicans don't like them."