WASHINGTON (AP) — South Carolina Republican officials said Saturday their state party chairman didn't mean for a tweet about conservatives being an "army of occupation" to describe a white nationalist rally in a Virginia college town.
In a tweet posted Saturday afternoon, state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said that "It is not enough that conservatives be a conquering army, we must be an army of occupation." The tweet was signed "DM," his initials.
But party officials told The Associated Press that McKissick didn't intend for the tweet to reference a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where three people were killed and dozens were sent to hospitals on Saturday.
The party officials tell AP that McKissick uses an app called Buffer, that sends tweets on his behalf, to keep his account appearing to be active on Twitter. Other tweets posted to his account on Saturday included articles on the United States' export of natural gas and a recent memo at Google claiming biological gender differences helped explain why women are underrepresented at the company. Those tweets linked to articles and were not signed by McKissick.
State Democrats jumped on McKissick's "occupation" missive, launching a tweet storm that began by saying he had sent his initial message on occupation "in the face of terrorism." A subsequent message said, "This is not a time to use coded language to describe your love for segregation."
Later Saturday afternoon, McKissick sent out a series of tweets blaming "liberals trolling my Twitter feed" for not recognizing the "quote-bot when they see it."
"And for the record, political violence by any group is always beyond the pale," McKissick ended the three-part tweet message.
In response to McKissick's later tweets, state Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson told AP he was saddened by the whole exchange.
"You can't fix dumbass," Robertson told AP. "If he can't say something that fixes the situation, it's best that Drew McKissick just stay quiet."
Republican party officials selected McKissick as chairman earlier this year. He has been a political operative in South Carolina for more than two decades.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/