Nev. Assemblyman Jim Wheeler responds to firestorm over slavery comment

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A Nevada assemblyman has faced tough scrutiny after he said in a YouTube video posted this week that he would vote in favor of slavery if it was in line with his constituents’ wishes.

“If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose … they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah,” Assemblyman Jim Wheeler told members of the Story County Republican Party in August, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Republicans and Democrats alike rushed to denounce the assemblyman’s comments.

“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society,” said Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval in a statement. “He should retract his remarks and apologize.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, called Mr. Wheeler’s comments “insensitive and wrong,” the AP reported.

Mr. Wheeler said his remarks were taken out of context and that he used an extreme example only to show how much he supports those who elected him.

“I used an over-the-top example of something that I absolutely do not agree with, and even mentioned that to get me to vote for such a thing, my constituents would literally have to hold a gun to my head,” he said in a statement on his website. “In reality, that isn’t the case at all. If my constituents wanted to do something as outlandish as bring back an abhorrent system, then I simply couldn’t represent them anymore. They would remove me from office, or I’d have to resign.

“If my comments were taken with offense by anyone, I sincerely apologize. I intended the statement as an extreme example of something unacceptable, and hope that’s how it’s taken,” he concluded.

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