Huffpost Politics

Jim Roddey, Local GOP County Chair, Compares Obama Supporter To Someone 'Mentally Retarded'

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A long-time Pennsylvania GOP official reportedly earned a warm reception Tuesday for comparing a supporter of President Obama to someone who is "mentally retarded."

At an election night party for state Rep. Randy Vulakovich (R-Shaler), Allegheny County GOP chair and former county executive Jim Roddey fired up a couple hundred local Republicans by noting that Vulakovich had defeated his Democratic opponent by a nearly 50-point margin.

Roddey then segued to a less positive note.

"There was a disappointment tonight. I was very embarrassed," Roddey told the crowd, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I was in this parking lot and there was a man looking for a space to park, and I found a space for him. And I felt badly -- he looked like he was sort of in distress. And I said, 'Sir, here's a place.' And he said, 'That's a handicapped space.' I said, 'Oh, I'm so sorry, I saw that Obama sticker and I thought you were mentally retarded.'"

Post-Gazette reporter Tim McNulty observed that the crowd "hollered and clapped" in response to the insensitive joke.

Roddey has long supported presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the presidential race, as well as the Pennsylvania voter ID law that another Republicans bragged will boost the former Massachusetts governor's prospects in the battleground state.

UPDATE: 8/9/12 --

Roddey apologized Wednesday amid mounting pressure for him to disavow his controversial quip.

"I have a long record of supporting people with disabilities and should have remembered that before I spoke," he said in an email to the Post-Gazette. "My remarks were inappropriate and I apologize."

Allegheny County Democratic Committee chairwoman Nancy Mills told Peters Patch on Wednesday that Roddey should not only say he's sorry for the insensitive comment, but also resign his position as the local party's top Republican.

As of Thursday afternoon, an online petition calling for Roddey's removal had more than 300 signatures.

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