Saturday, November 12, 2005

Democrats frown on Massachusetts 'KKK' joke


Democrats frown on Massachusetts 'KKK' joke

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Mitt Romney was introduced at a Washington luncheon as the head of a state run by the "modern-day KKK ... the Kennedy-Kerry Klan," drawing rebukes from Democrats and Romney himself.

The comment was made by Gerald Walpin, a New Yorker who is a board member at the conservative law group the Federalist Society, where Romney spoke Thursday.

"Today when most of the country thinks of who controls Massachusetts, I think the modern-day KKK comes to mind — the Kennedy-Kerry Klan," Walpin said, according to Keith Appell, a GOP consultant who works for the Federalist Society.

Later, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Romney branded the remarks "ill-advised."

"It's not appropriate to joke about the Ku Klux Klan," Romney said.

The Boston Globe reported in Friday's editions that Romney laughed along with the audience and thanked Walpin for "a very generous introduction." But the Republican governor said he wasn't really paying attention.

"I was looking at my notes and preparing for my speech at the time," he said. "There's not much I can do about speakers who introduce me."

State party Chairman Phil Johnston said he was outraged that Romney could find humor in the remarks about Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and the Ku Klux Klan.

"It is embarrassing that Gov. Mitt Romney would laugh at any joke that disparages Catholics, African-Americans, and Jews," he said.

Walpin said Friday he had no regrets about the comment.

"Certain people in Massachusetts have no sense of humor," he told WBZ-AM.

The Federalist Society is among the nation's most influential conservative legal organizations, an important constituency for Romney if he decides to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. Several senior members of the Bush administration are members.

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