NEW ORLEANS — State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) is not backing down from comments she made this week about the role she claims race is playing in opposition to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Tuesday, in a floor speech on an amendment calling for an expansion of Medicaid, Peterson said, "It's not about how many dollars we can receive. It's not about that. You ready? It's about race. I know nobody wants to talk about that. It's about the race of this African-American president."
Carter Peterson, the state Democratic Party chair, went on to say, "It comes down to the race of the president of the United States, which causes people to disconnect and step away from the substance of the bill."
The comments drew the ire of the Louisiana Republican Party. State GOP chair Roger Villerie released a statement calling for Carter Peterson to resign from her post with the Louisiana Democratic Party.
"It's shocking that state Sen. Peterson has doubled down on her comment that Louisianians who oppose Obamacare are racists," Villerie said.
Carter Peterson said she's not stepping down or apologizing for her statements.
"There will be no apology because an apology is not due to the people of Louisiana for what I said," Carter Peterson told WWL-TV. "An apology maybe should come from Gov. (Bobby) Jindal as to why he's not accepting the money that can help so many uninsured citizens (and) working families."
Jindal, a Republican, told Baton Rouge affiliate WBRZ that it's "wrong to call people racists" simply over opposition to the health law.
Carter Peterson responded by saying, "The comments that I made on the floor have been misconstrued and that's unfortunate that it's being done for political purposes. But I certainly did not call anyone a racist."
The senator said a bill calling for an expansion of Medicaid still has a chance of passing between now and June 6, the end of the current legislative session.
We expect to have new comments from Carter Peterson, the state GOP and Jindal coming up on Eyewitness News at six p.m.