Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, on Wednesday disavowed a joke stereotyping Jews that a Northern Virginia GOP official told in warming up the crowd Tuesday at a Cuccinelli rally in Loudoun County.
Cuccinelli had not yet arrived when John Whitbeck, the 10th District Republican chairman, told the joke.
“Obviously, I think it was inappropriate,” Cuccinelli said Wednesday after an appearance in Richmond.
“It’s certainly unfortunate and something if I had heard it at the time, I would have spoken to right there. Certainly not an appropriate thing to carry into the public discussion we’re having.”
In a video posted on YouTube, Whitbeck tells the crowd in Sterling that the “head of the Jewish faith” presents the new pope with “a ceremonial piece of paper” that dates back hundreds of years. The pope asks the Jewish leader about the ornate piece of paper and is told it is “the bill for the Last Supper.”
Whitbeck delivered one of the nominating speeches in May when Cuccinelli formally accepted the Republican Party’s nod at the state convention.
Cuccinelli, who is of Irish and Italian extraction, has referenced his heritage on the stump. His campaign has jabbed at Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe for “insulting” fellow Irish Americans by reportedly telling the Northern Virginia Technology Council that as an Irish Catholic he would get things done over drinks.
Cuccinelli was asked Wednesday where the line is on what is appropriate and what is not.
“Every Virginian is going to have to decide that one for themselves. ... I’m proud of my family heritage — I hope everybody is. That kind of family history helps define us.”
Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said in a statement that Whitbeck’s “anti-Semitic joke at the opening of an event for gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has no place in civil political discourse, and it was inappropriate and offensive.”
Halber said the Cuccinelli campaign’s quick repudiation of Whitbeck’s remarks “is yet another positive indication that in the commonwealth, both citizens and candidates alike will not tolerate this type of divisive and derogatory commentary in a public forum.”