Watch CBSN Live

GOP official apologizes for sending Obama chimp image, refuses to step down

Orange County Republican party official Marilyn Davenport apologized Monday night to fellow party members for sending out an email depicting President Obama's head on the body of an ape -- but maintained that she does not plan to resign from her post.

Davenport sent an emailover the weekend to fellow party members in which Mr. Obama's head is pasted on the body of a baby ape. The image also depicts two adult apes wearing human clothing - presumably referencing Mr. Obama's parents. "Now you know why no birth certificate," the accompanying text reads.

Shortly after sending the email, Davenport said in a follow up that she was sorry if she had offended anyone with the image. She denied the implication that the depiction was racist.

"I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth," she wrote in an email. "In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email."

"In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race," she added. "I received plenty of emails about [former president] George Bush that I didn't particularly like yet there was no 'cry' in the media about them."

But in a subsequent email, sent to the Orange County Republican Central Committee late Monday night, Davenport apologized more strongly. She asked for forgiveness for her "unwise behavior" and noted that she "didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive."

"To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen this email I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior. I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive," Davenport's apology read.

Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh has reportedly entreated Davenport to resign from her position, as he has determined that the group's bylaws prevent its members from voting her out. He told the Associated Press he hopes to have an ethics committee investigate the incident.

As of Monday, Davenport said she had no intention of taking him up on the offer.

"I'm not going to resign," Davenport told the Orange County Weekly in an interview. "I really have no plans to do so. My constituents have told me not to resign, and I'm very happy with their support. Everybody who knows me says they can't believe people are calling me a racist. I am not a racist, but I do think I need to apologize again with different words."

"Basically, what I'm saying is that as a Christian I won't ever repeat this," she said. "I will be much wiser from now on."

Baugh said that despite Davenport's apology, he continued to condemn her behavior and believe she should resign.

"The email is without question extremely racist," Baugh said. "Depicting African-Americans as monkey is a longtime, well-known and particularly offensive slur because it denies them their basic humanity."

"The damage to the Republican Party has been done by her and I still think she should resign," he added in an interview with the Weekly.

The California branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also spoke out against Davenport's actions.

Michael Schroeder, former chairman of the California Republican Party, said that while he was "pleased that Marilyn Davenport has elected to accept responsibility for her actions," he still thought she should step down.

"Unfortunately, at this point, it's in the best interests of both the Republican Party and Mrs. Davenport that she resign," he said.

View CBS News In