Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 | 4:21 p.m.
Democratic congressional candidate Steven Horsford today said he is disappointed in his Republican opponent Danny Tarkanain for a racially insensitive remark he made during a campaign speech last week.
As first reported by Sun columnist Jon Ralston, Tarkanian told a Republican gathering that Democrats were unfairly accusing him of making a racist comment to the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board last week.
Tarkanian had told the editorial board that he’s confident he can win African-American votes because of his family’s long relationship with the black community and because of the basketball clinic he runs for at-risk youths.
Democrats pounced on him, accusing him of using basketball to stereotype black voters.
But in defending himself against those Democratic attacks, Tarkanian questioned whether he and his campaign should “be like Steven Horsford… and pretend we’re black.”
“Should we not work within the black community?” Tarkanian said, according to a video of the speech posted by Ralston. “We could be like Steven Horsford who’s not doing anything with that community and, you know, pretend we’re black and maybe try to get some votes if that’s where it is.”
Horsford, Nevada’s first African-American senate majority leader, reacted sharply.
“I know who I am,” Horsford said in a written statement. “I will never be judged by the color of my skin, but by the results that I deliver for all people. Tarkanian has proven that he is bankrupt in more than one way, and it’s time he takes responsibility for not only his actions but also his words.
“I am simply disappointed in Danny Tarkanian.”
Reached by phone Monday, Tarkanian said he called Horsford to explain the comment, but would not elaborate on what he meant when he said it.
In a statement released by his campaign, Tarkanian stopped short of an apology.
“Last week, during a campaign speech, I was inarticulate and made a statement that could understandably be misconstrued,” Tarkanian said. “I have called my opponent to explain that this was a misstatement on my part.”
Horsford’s spokesman confirmed that Tarkanian called the campaign headquarters and left a message with Horsford’s assistant.
“Danny Tarkanian called our office to clarify his statement, not to apologize," Horsford's campaign spokesman said. "We’re not looking for a clarification. What we saw was Danny Tarkanian live and unplugged and he should take responsibility for his words and actions.”