Embattled Arizona Representative David Stringer apologized to colleagues during a short speech Thursday on the House floor for making racist comments last year.
However, Stringer did not address his specific inflammatory statements. Nor did he admit it was wrong to say publicly “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” in Arizona public schools and that African-Americans “don’t blend in.”
Just yesterday, Stringer seemed defiant in a letter he sent to all House members. The letter blamed the media and the group of college students who recorded a conversation they had with him in November.
His message had shifted by the time the floor session opened on Thursday afternoon. Stringer rose and issued something close to a genuine apology for the first time.
“Issues that relate to race and ethnicity are very sensitive in any setting. I believe, upon reflection, I have a duty to apologize to you as my colleagues,” Stringer told his peers.
The Republican from Prescott has faced calls for his resignation from the governor, state GOP chairman, and other officials for his racist statements, which include calling immigration an “existential threat” at a GOP meeting last summer, and making the remarks to the students, whose audio recording was published online by Phoenix New Times.
When his comments bemoaning a lack of “white kids” in Arizona made national news last summer, Stringer shied away from a true apology.
“If there are people in this room who were offended, I am going to apologize for making statements that allowed someone else to excerpt them, misrepresent them, ” he told reporters during a meeting with civil rights activist Jarrett Maupin in south Phoenix.
During his speech on Thursday, Stringer urged colleagues who feel uncomfortable with his remarks to meet with him to discuss.
“I would never intentionally say or do anything that would make you doubt my respect for you, or make you feel uncomfortable working with me. Many of you have shared your feelings about my remarks and I have heard you,” Stringer said.
Several members of the House stood to clap for Stringer after he finished, but most legislators remained seated amid scattered applause.
Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers thanked Stringer. Speaking slowly, Bowers told the members, “What we say does not just cast color on our own selves but all of our colleagues.”
“Mr. Stringer, words hurt at times,” Bowers said later. “And to different people more than others, but I’m grateful that you recognize that. And that you would be willing to say so in this room. And I would hope that all of us could remember that as we speak in this room.”
Rep. David Stringer’s full remarks on the floor are below:
“Things that I have said are of deep concern to many of you. And I would like the chance to address that for a moment now. I want you to know that as my colleagues in the House, I believe you are entitled to an explanation and an apology. I want to ensure all of you of my deep personal respect. I would never intentionally say or do anything that would make you doubt my respect for you, or make you feel uncomfortable working with me. Many of you have shared your feelings about my remarks and I have heard you. I personally continue to welcome any opportunity to meet with you to express your — discuss your concerns. Issues that relate to race and ethnicity are very sensitive in any setting. I believe upon reflection, I have a duty to apologize to you as my colleagues. I apologize to you, I apologize to the speaker, I apologize to our staff here at the House, and I apologize to the public. I want you to know that I am sorry. Thank you sir.”