A former Democratic National Committee chairman apologized Sunday for remarks he made a day earlier that suggested he thought Hurricane Gustav demonstrated that God is on the Democrats’ side in this year’s presidential election.
Don Fowler, who was DNC chairman from 1995-1996, said he was just mimicking Rev. Jerry Falwell when he was caught on tape during a flight from Denver to North Carolina Friday.
“That just demonstrates that God is on our side,” Fowler said during the flight, of which a video was posted on YouTube under the headline: “Fowler Fouls: Hurricane is God’s Favor To Democrats.”
The person who recorded the conversation is not identified, but Fowler was talking to Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., according to the Web site Redstate.com.
After an uproar, Fowler said he was sorry if anyone was offended.
“I don’t believe in a God that’s vengeful. I believe in a God that’s compassionate,” Fowler said.
“This is a point of national concern. I think everybody of good will has great empathy and sympathy for people in New Orleans,” Fowler said. “Most religious people are praying for people in New Orleans. There is no political connotation to this whatsoever. This was just poking fun at Jerry Falwell and the nonsensical thing he had said several years ago.”
Falwell was roundly criticized after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when he said they were God’s punishment for abortion, homosexuality and other sins.
South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson called Don Fowler’s comments “disappointing and despicable.”
“A storm is not a partisan event and that is what they’ve done. I am outraged,” Dawson said, speaking by telephone from St. Paul, Minn., where the Republican National Convention is scheduled to start Monday, but may be altered because of concern over Gustav.
The impending hurricane apparently is cause for much speculation on God’s will. On Friday, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore said the storm is proof of God’s existence.
“I was just thinking, this Gustav is proof that there is a God in heaven,” Moore told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. “To just have it planned at the same time, that it would actually be on its way to New Orleans for Day One of the Republican convention, up in the Twin Cities, at the top of the Mississippi River.”