Politics & Government

NC Democratic Party spokesman apologizes for his old tweets about women

These screenshots show tweets that Robert Howard posted in 2012, before he was the communications director for the NC Democratic Party.
These screenshots show tweets that Robert Howard posted in 2012, before he was the communications director for the NC Democratic Party.

The North Carolina Democratic Party’s lead spokesman has apologized for offensive tweets he posted while working in a previous job, including some that used derogatory language about women.

Communications Director Robert Howard, who was hired by the party in June 2017, said he sent the tweets when he was “young and dumb and trying — unsuccessfully — to be a comedian.” The tweets from 2011, 2012, and 2013 were posted in the years after he graduated from college including while he worked for a Washington, D.C., public relations firm. A tipster sent the tweets to the NC Insider.

In one tweet, sent Sept. 14, 2011, Howard used sexually explicit language in referring to a story alleging a relationship between former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and basketball player Glen Rice. Another tweet from Dec. 7, 2011, uses an expletive to refer to women and refers to the rapper Drake, whose music includes lyrics similar to the tweet.

“Hey, girls with six-packs and biceps, no thanks,” a tweet sent in May 2012 reads.

Other tweets included language about women’s body parts. Another expressed excitement that actress Reese Witherspoon was hit by a car on the same day that nude photos appeared of two other female celebrities. “Greatest day ever?” Howard tweeted.

He also described the TV weight-loss contest “The Biggest Loser” as “funny ... bc of all the fat ppl.”

“I made these comments when I was young and dumb and trying — unsuccessfully — to be a comedian. That doesn’t excuse them, and I’m deeply embarrassed and apologetic. They do not in any way reflect my current views,” Howard said in an email to the NC Insider.

NC Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds, in a statement to the Insider, said Howard has apologized for the tweets to her and party Chairman Wayne Goodwin and that they had accepted his apology.

“The insensitive tweets that recently surfaced predate Robert’s time with the NCDP,” Reynolds said. “I was disappointed to read them but knowing Robert as I do, I know they do not genuinely reflect who he is today,” her statement said.

Following a report in the Insider, North Carolina Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Michele Nix said the tweets from Howard were “utterly inappropriate and offensive.”

Catherine Whiteford, a Republican candidate for House District 34, said it was “upsetting and confusing” that the tweets weren’t found during a basic screening process.

“While I’m sure everyone has said something that they didn’t mean, it’s upsetting and confusing that the NCDP wouldn’t even do a basic screening process to find this, or potentially worse, they did and didn’t care,” Whiteford said. “The language in these tweets is offensive and inappropriate. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, I would think that the NCDP would take even more care to have the people who represent them be someone that women wouldn’t be ashamed of.”

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