SUNNYVALE, CA - APRIL 27: Former eBay CEO and Republican candidate for California governor Meg Whitman gestures as she speaks to members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group at the Yahoo! headquarters April 27, 2009 in Sunnyvale, California. Meg Whitman is campaigning well ahead of the November 2010 election for governor of California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman announced Saturday she was severing ties with an elected official who described himself as a "proud racist."
The Whitman campaign disavowed Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar's remarks one day after state Democrats called on the former eBay chief executive to distance herself from Kellar.
At a recent Tea Party-style rally in Southern California, Kellar blamed illegal immigrants for harming the economy. Located north of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita has seen a large influx of Hispanic immigrants.
Kellar recalled that Theodore Roosevelt once said the United States had room for only one flag and for one language -- English. He said he mentioned the former president's comment at a City Council meeting several years ago.
"The only thing I heard back from a couple of people was, 'Bob, you sound like a racist,"' Kellar told the rally. "I said, 'That's good. If that's what you think I am because I happen to believe in America, then I'm a proud racist. You're darn right I am."'
His videotaped remarks were posted on YouTube and caused an uproar.
Kellar said afterward that his comments were taken out of context but he has no regrets over the remark.
On Friday, Martha Escutia, general counsel for the California Democratic Party, released a statement, saying "There should be no room for racists in the Republican primary or any part of our electoral system."
Whitman's campaign shed Kellar's endorsement Saturday.
"Bob Kellar's remarks stoke the worst type of political dialogue," said campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei. "Meg is running for governor to help bring Californians together for a common purpose. Mr. Kellar's comments are unacceptable. He has voluntarily ended his limited involvement with our campaign."