The chairman of Tennessee's Democratic Party wants a Republican legislative aide fired for sending out a "reprehensible" e-mail depicting President Obama as two cartoonish white eyes peering from a black background.
Obama's image is in the last square of a collage containing portraits of the previous 43 U.S. presidents. Copies of the e-mail were posted on the Internet on Monday.
Sherri Goforth, an administrative assistant to state Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, has admitted she sent the e-mail May 28 with the title "Historical Keepsake Photo." She said, without elaborating, that she mistakenly sent it "to the wrong list of people."
According to The Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper, a note on the e-mail said it was paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party, but GOP officials denied that they produced it. Black chairs the Senate Republican Caucus.
Black rebuked Goforth but didn't dismiss her.
"Is this indicative of what Senate Republicans
think about our commander in chief?" asked state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester in a statement posted on the party's Web site.
"I am calling on Senator Black to reject this racist
smear and fire this staffer who, on state government time, on state government computers, using a state government e-mail account, launched this bigoted attack on our president," Forrester said. "Keeping her on the staff would send the message that this type of behavior is condoned by the Senate Republican Caucus."
"This e-mail is reprehensible, insults the office of the president, and is embarrassing to all Tennesseans regardless of political party," Forrester said.
Goforth told Christian Grantham of the Web site Nashville Is Talking that she had received a letter of reprimand from her superiors but will remain on the job.
Grantham said Goforth told him she felt "very bad about accidentally sending it to the wrong list" of people. "I went on the wrong e-mail and I inadvertently hit the wrong button," Grantham quoted Goforth as saying. "I'm very sick about it, and it's one of those things I can't change or take back."
Forrester, in his Web posting, said, "Ms. Goforth does not seem to understand what she did wrong. She has apologized for 'sending [the e-mail] to the wrong list of people.'
I believe that any list of people would have recognized this e-mail as offensive and hateful."
Forrester added: "Unfortunately, Sherri Goforth's e-mail joins the list of shameful episodes by Tennessee
Republicans, from the infamous 'Birds of a Feather' direct-mail piece that featured black crows with the heads of Barack Obama and [African-American] Rep. Nathan Vaughn, to the "Barack the Magic Negro" song that former Tennessee GOP Party Chairman Chip Saltsman sent to RNC members during his failed campaign for RNC chair."