Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) stirred controversy on Friday by citing a biblical passage when talking about President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election MORE that some interpret as a death curse.
“In his role as president, I think we should pray for Barack Obama. But I think we need to be very specific about how we pray,” Perdue said at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington.
“We should pray like Psalm 109:8 says, that says, ‘Let his days be few. And let another have his office,’” the senator said with a grin, drawing laughter from the crowd at the conservative Christian gathering.
But the psalm's next lines are more sinister: “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow! May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!”
A spokesman for Perdue said the senator was not wishing harm on the president, pointing out he did not recite the later portion of the psalm.
"Senator Perdue said we are called to pray for our country, for our leaders, and for our president. He in no way wishes harm towards our president and everyone in the room understood that," communications director Megan Whittemore wrote in an email.
"However, we should add the media to our prayer list because they are pushing a narrative to create controversy and that is exactly what the American people are tired of."
Asked by Politico whether he regretted the remarks, Perdue replied, "of course not."
"There was no intention to be derogatory at all. It was a little humor,” he said.
Perdue's quip drew swift criticism from Democrats.
“On stage next, did [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] condemn Perdue's prayer for Obama to die? Of course not. This is why they have Trump,” tweeted Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Justice Breyer issues warning on remaking Supreme Court: 'What goes around comes around' MORE (D-Nev.).
Perdue has reportedly grown close to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE. He is co-hosting a fundraiser for the candidate next week in Georgia with the state’s governor, Nathan Deal (R).
Updated at 12:34 p.m.