In a speech to a Republican group last week that was captured on video, homebuilder Carlos Beruff made the remarks while saying that the Democratic president had hurt the nation with his military policy.
“Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president, because he’s an animal, OK … has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military,” Beruff said.
Both GOP and Democratic candidates running against Beruff quickly called the racially-charged remarks insulting after they were first reported by The Huffington Post on Sunday.
U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, called on Beruff to apologize.
“In the U.S. Senate, our diverse state deserves better than Mr. Beruff’s clear record of bigotry,” Murphy said.
Jolly said that while he believes Obama’s policies have “weakened our leadership on the world stage and have weakened us economically here at home” there was no reason to call him an “animal.”
“Referring to the president of the United States as an ‘animal’ is an alarming insult of questionable intent and has no place in American politics,” Jolly said in a statement.
Beruff, in his own statement Monday, refused to back down and took a shot at Murphy, who has gotten financial backing for his campaigns from his father, who runs a successful construction company.
“I will not be lectured by this young kid Congressman Murphy who has never had a job other than the one his dad bought for him in Congress but I do appreciate the publicity that Murphy is giving to my critique of President Obama’s failure to protect America,” Beruff said.
Todd Wilcox, another one of the GOP candidates also seeking the post, said Beruff’s comments weren’t going to solve the nation’s problems.
“We can win the debate of ideas without sounding like school children,” said Wilcox in a statement. “Name calling the president of the United States for shock value isn’t going to keep us safe from terrorist threats or tackle our skyrocketing debt.”
The White House declined comment.