Alaska Congressman Don Young's use of racial slurs in reference to Latinos prompted a strong backlash from his fellow Republican Party members today as both House and Senate leaders demanded an apology from Young.
Young used the derogatory term "wetbacks" to refer to Latino workers on his father's ranch in an interview Thursday. His comments came only a few weeks after the Republican National Committee released a party "autopsy" report on the presidential election that outlined revitalization strategies, which included prioritizing Hispanic voter outreach.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was the first to condemn the congressman's words:
"Migrant workers come to America looking for opportunity and a way to provide a better life for their families. They do not come to this country to hear ethnic slurs and derogatory language from elected officials. The comments used by Rep. Young do nothing to elevate our party, political discourse or the millions who come here looking for economic opportunity," Cornyn said in a statement.
House Speaker John Boehner followed quickly with a statement of his own:
"Congressman Young's remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds. I don't care why he said it - there's no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology."
Representative Joaquin Castro tweeted the following:
- Joaquin Castro(@JoaquinCastrotx) March 29, 2013
Sen. John McCain also responded online:
Don Young's comments were offensive and have no place in our Party or in our nation's discourse. He should apologize immediately
- John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 29, 2013
RNC Chair, Reince Priebus released this statement:
"The words used by Representative Young emphatically do not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party. As I have continued to say, everyone in this country deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Our party represents freedom and opportunity for every American and a beacon of hope to those seeking liberty throughout the world. Offensive language and ethnic slurs have no place in our public discourse."
Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi called for an apology from the congressman.
Congressman Young should fully apologize for deeply offensive comments that were not appropriate in his youth or now.
- Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) March 29, 2013
Alaskan Senator, Lisa Murkowski reassured constituents that she did not condone Young's comments on her Facebook page:
"I want to tell Alaskans that I've heard the reports of Don Young's interview. Regardless of the time or the context, that term is inappropriate and offensive."