PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Republican Arizona lawmaker David Stringer of Prescott, who is under fire for remarks that many consider offensive and racist, has apologized today.
Stringer held a rambling news conference at LoLo's Chicken and Waffles in Phoenix, alongside the Reverend Jarrett Maupin.
While speaking to the Republican Men's Forum two weeks ago, Stringer said, "60 percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around."
He then said, "If we don't do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed."
Stringer said 51 seconds of his remarks shared on social media was a Democratic hit piece and says his comments were taken out of context.
The lawmakers says he's sorry, but spent most of the time talking about his work on criminal justice reform.
"It distorted my remarks, and I think mislead and unfortunately, offended a lot of people. So if there are people in this room who are offended, I am going to apologize for making statements that allowed someone else to excerpt them, misrepresent them to the community," Stringer said. "If someone looks at the totality of my remarks, I think they will see that they did not have an explicit racist overtone, which is something that had been represented in the media."
"You mean to say that we can't be a nation of shared values with ethnicities of all kinds, is that what you're saying?" asked a reporter.
"I think we can, I think we can actually, I'm hoping that we can. But I think that the context of my remarks at the men's forum a couple of weeks ago was mass immigration. Very high rates of immigration over a relatively short period of time, and how that creates challenges to assimilation," Stringer said.
"Yes or no, you told others you are a white nationalist, are you a white nationalist?" asked another reporter.
"No, I have never. That phrase, I suspect, is used in many different contexts. The answer is, I think that term, white nationalist, is used in many different contexts. I am not a white nationalist as I understand the term. I think that term most recently has been used in connection with people who are identified with the alt-right movement, and things of that type of thing," Stringer said. "I have absolutely no associations whatsoever with any kind of extremist organizations, or members of any kind of an alt-right or white nationalist kind of organization."
The Arizona Republican Party and Governor Doug Ducey have called on Stringer to resign. Ducey repeated those calls earlier on Wednesday.
"He hasn't stepped down. He plans to apologize today, is that enough?" asked a reporter.
"I'm going to stand by that statement I made last week," Ducey said.
The Arizona Republican Party released a statement in response to Stringer's "apology tour."
"I find this to be highly offensive, insensitive and counterproductive. The optics of this are despicable an it just goes to show how tone-deaf David Stringer really is. I don't know who put hum up to this, but it was an awful move."