RIVERSIDE, California (AP) _ A local Republican group has distributed a newsletter picturing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on a fake $10 bill adorned with a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken.
The drawing harked back to racist images from decades ago in America that featured caricatures of blacks eating watermelon and other Southern foods, often suggesting they were lazy or unclean.
Linking Obama, who is the first black presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party, to such stereotypes drew denunciations from various Republican officials. The illustration appeared in the October newsletter of the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday.
Diane Fedele, president of the group in San Bernardino County, near Los Angeles, said she had no racist intent.
“I never connected,'' she told the newspaper. “It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else.''
She apologized to anyone who was offended, saying: “That clearly wasn't my attempt.''
The Obama campaign declined to comment, saying it does not address such attacks.
The newsletter was sent to about 200 club members and associates last week by mail and e-mail. The club is a volunteer group that is not directly responsible to the state party, said California Republican Party press secretary Hector Barajas, who denounced the newsletter.