A South Carolina state senator this week used a racial slur to describe President Barack Obama and a Republican rival running in the state's gubernatorial primary.
Along with the president, the lawmaker targeted state Rep. Nikki Haley, who is of Indian descent.
Knotts later explained his comments.
"If it had been recorded, the public would be able to hear firsthand that my 'raghead' comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest," Knotts said in his statement. "Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It's like local political version of Saturday Night Live, which is actually where the joke came from."
Knotts has endorsed Haley's primary challenger, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.
Haley's campaign condemned the comments as did state Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), who is also running in the race.
Haley, who has been endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), has also faced accusations that she has extramarital affairs with two men, but she denies both claims.
Four GOP candidates are vying for the nomination to replace Gov. Mark Sanford (R), who is term-limited.
Sanford, a former 2012 presidential hopeful, dealt with a personal scandal of his own last year when it was revealed he took secret trips to Argentina to visit his mistress.
Cross-posted from the Briefing Room