President Bush has no qualms about raising campaign cash for Sen. George Allen, despite the Republican’s widely assailed quip in which he called a rival campaign worker of Indian descent a “macaca.”
In recent days, Allen has faced a barrage of criticism since he used the word to describe Virginia native S.R. Sidarth, a 20-year-old University of Virginia senior who was video taping a campaign event for Allen’s Democratic challenger Jim Webb.
Allen exhorted the crowd: “Let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”
Macaca is a genus of monkeys including macaques. The name also could be spelled Makaka, which is a city in South Africa.
Allen, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, has said he just made the word up. He said he didn’t mean to demean Sidarth and was sorry if he was offended.
“Senator Allen apologized,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. “And I think it’s in everyone’s best interest, in this day and age of politics when everyone is trying to improve the tone and discourse, to accept apologies when they’re offered.”
Perino was speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One as Bush traveled to Minnesota for a fundraiser and speech. Bush plans to travel across the Potomac River to Virginia Wednesday to raise money for Allen at the home of former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie.
“I was asked earlier if the president had qualms about attending,” Perino said. “The answer is, ‘No.'”
Phil Singer, spokesman for the Senate Democrats campaign committee, argued that simply saying Allen apologized wasn’t good enough.
“Allen’s remarks were despicable and Bush has an obligation to say so,” Singer said. “If the president refuses to condemn Allen’s comments, he should at the very least cancel his fundraiser for him or else it will look like he is rewarding Allen’s behavior.”
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press