Bakari Sellers, a former Democrat member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, called former South Carolina governor and 2024 Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley — who is Indian American — a “white governor from the deep south,” in a Sunday appearance on CNN.
Sellers, who is a CNN political commentator and an attorney, made the comment during a CNN panel after Haley participated in a CNN town hall to discuss her candidacy. He discussed Haley’s response after a 2015 shooting by neo-Nazi Dylann Roof, who killed nine African Americans.
Sellers said, “But there also has to be some credit given to a white governor from the deep south being able to go to nine funerals, because I saw the exhaustion on her face, being a leader during that time and being able to bring people together.”
Haley’s communications director Nachama Solveikchik tweeted:
Did @Bakari_Sellers just call Nikki Haley a ‘white governor’? What a joke.
Did @Bakari_Sellers just call Nikki Haley a "white governor"? What a joke.
— Nachama Soloveichik (@nachamasol) June 5, 2023
Panel moderator CNN Anchor Kaitlin Collins appeared to correct Sellers, commenting, “And also she is the first woman of color that is running in this, I should note.”
Sellers later corrected himself during the panel, saying, “And I made a mistake earlier — I called her a white governor. I should say she’s a governor of color.”
It is not clear why Sellers called her “white” in the first place.
Sellers, according to his own commentary, is familiar with her background and is from the same South Carolina county she is from.
Haley’s campaign sent out a press release that slammed the CNN panel and Sellers for calling Haley a “white governor”:
Did the CNN panel watch the same Nikki Haley town hall as the rest of America? For 90 minutes, Haley fielded questions from CNN host Jake Tapper and Iowa voters. She offered substantive answers on tough issues like abortion, entitlement reform, federal spending, her differences with Donald Trump, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China, and taking down the Confederate flag.
The liberal panelists’ take? They tried to hit Haley for not talking about their preferred topics enough, including race and abortion. One panelist even hit Haley for being a ‘white governor.’
“Nikki Haley is the only presidential candidate talking to real voters on the ground and taking their questions in multiple town halls,” Soloveichik said in the release. “She has released conservative policy solutions on a host of issues and addressed many of those issues tonight. Nikki Haley won’t cave to the liberal talking heads, and that’s what voters love about her.”
WATCH: CNN’s Sellers: Trump’s Racism Exposed the “Ignorance” of the American People: