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Andre Bauer

January 26, 2010 by USA Post 

bauer_ap_297Andre Bauer:South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said Monday night that he regrets comparing those who live off government assistance to “stray animals.”

In an interview Monday night with POLITICO, Bauer defended the sentiment of what he was trying to say last Friday, but rejected the metaphor he used that landed him in hot water.

Bauer – one of the frontrunners in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary – said during a town hall event focused on reducing the number of South Carolinians on government assistance that “my grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed.”

“You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply,” he said.

“They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.”

Bauer has come under attack from some of his gubernatorial rivals and his comments were subject of much scrutiny Monday by the national political press.

Bauer told POLITICO that he was surprised by the reaction to his remarks.

“I never saw it coming, but it is what it is,” he said. “Clearly I was taken out of context. Nobody in that meeting or any other meeting where I’ve said that before had any problem with it. In fact, I had a black minister at that meeting and he came up to me afterwards and asked if I could come speak to his congregation.”

But Bauer conceded that while his basic message – that federal assistance has created a culture of dependency – may have been acceptable to the crowd, the language he chose was not.

“If I could do it again, would I use a different metaphor? Of course,” the Republican lieutenant governor said. “Do I regret it? Sure I do because it was used in a way that I never meant for it to.”

Bauer said he had “hoped” that his remarks would “start a discussion.”

“But I had no idea what kind of discussion it would encourage,” he said. “What I talked about in that meeting was breaking cycles. I didn’t venomously go after anybody.”

“Somebody has to have the gumption to talk about the cycle of dependency,” Bauer added. “Someone has to do it. I’m not claiming I have all the answers.”

Asked if he thought the fallout from his controversial comments would hurt his run for governor, Bauer responded: “Sure.”

“There will be people who will have a different impression of Andre Bauer because of things that they heard that were taken out of context or things I’ve never said before,” Bauer said. “But there is an undercurrent of people that are fed up. And maybe I didn’t use the right verbiage, but they want this discussion.”

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