Sacramento County Republican leaders Tuesday took down offensive material on their official party Web site that sought to link Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraged people to "Waterboard Barack Obama" – material that offended even state GOP leaders.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has pushed the party to try to broaden its appeal, took issue with the site. "In the governor's view, it's completely and totally inappropriate," said Julie Soderlund, a Schwarzenegger spokeswoman.
Hector Barajas, a California Republican Party spokesman, said Democrats have been playing the race card, but that the local party went too far in this instance.
"I'm aware of the content," he said. "Some people find it offensive, others do not. I cannot comment on how people interpret things."
Democratic party officials condemned the GOP site. "It's exactly the kind of vile, repugnant politicking that has relegated the California GOP to an afterthought in California politics," said Roger Salazar, spokesman for the state Democratic Party. "Even the top of their ticket would be disgusted by this display of dishonesty."
GOP congressional candidate Rep. Dan Lungren's photo appeared above the Osama and Obama illustration.
Tim Clark, a Lungren spokesman, said the congressman had no control over the site's content.
"We think that the party Web site should focus on getting out the vote," Clark said. "We don't agree with the tone."
Kevin Johnson, the dean of the University of California, Davis, law school, said he was shocked by the mess
"Just sad," Johnson said. "It suggests to me that we haven't gone as far as we would have liked in putting racism to bed."
"It's disappointing that something like this would show up on the Republican Party Web site," Johnson continued. "Maybe someone hacked into it. That would make me feel better. This is hateful stuff."