Representative Cass Ballenger (R-NC), a senior Republican, told the Charlotte Observer that he had “segregationist feelings” toward a former colleague in Congress, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, an African-American. In explaining why McKinney “provoked” these strong feelings in him, he said, “I mean, she was such a bitch,” according to the Observer. Ballenger later expressed regret over his choice of words, explaining that “I was trying to say that almost anybody can develop an animosity to individuals. In this particular case, I picked on Cynthia McKinney because she was what I consider less than patriotic to the United States,” according to the Associated Press. Ballenger has served in Congress 16 years. He is the Deputy Majority Whip and on the House Republican Steering Committee.
Ballenger was responding to the racist remarks made by Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) that led to his resignation today as Senate Majority Leader. Lott was heavily criticized from both sides of the political spectrum for his statement that the country would be better off if retiring Senator Strom Thurmond, a segregationist candidate, had won the presidency in 1948.
“So is Ballenger saying, ÔI’m not just racist, I’m also sexist’?” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “It is an outrage that a member of Congress would make such sexist and racist remarks. We hope he joins Lott in resigning his leadership post.”