BET Co-Founder Mocks Deeds' Stuttering

Incident posted to YouTube

By Mike Tunison
|  Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009  |  Updated 7:14 AM EDT
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BET Co-Founder Mocks Deeds

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BET co-founder Sheila Johnson made a derisive imitation of Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds' slight stutter at a fundraiser held this past weekend for Republican opponent Bob McDonnell, and the whole thing was caught on video and posted on the Internet.

Addressing the attendees, Johnson stressed the importance of communication skills, saying, "We need someone who can really communicate. And Bob McDonnell can communicate. The other people that I talk to, and especially his op-op-op-op-op-op-opponent di-di-did this all through my interview with him. He could not articulate what needed to be done."

"I'm disappointed," Deeds said later Monday. "And I'll be honest, if it's about being smooth or being a slick communicator, I'm never going to win that discussion, but I work as hard as I can to be honest and forthright and tell people what I think, and I'm going to continue to work toward creating opportunity and prosperity and hope in every corner of Virginia. I think I've layed out my vision very well."

Regarding the video gone viral -- and commercial -- of a post-debate interview in which Deeds seems to say both that he won't raise taxes and he won't rule out any method of funding a transportation plan, including raising taxes, Deeds said, "In that conversation I probably said some things I shouldn't have said. ... I wish I hadn't gotten hot."

Johnson, who is a Democrat, has caught flak from the left for her support of McDonnell. Her husband, Robert Johnson, drew attention in the past for his comments about the problems that Barack Obama's admitted drug use could have had on his presidential campaign.

According to Virginia politics blog Not Larry Sabato, McDonnell didn't acknowledge what Johnson said when he appeared later to speak at the event.

Deeds' spokesperson Mike Gehrke later provided this reaction to the Huffington Post:

"This is a cheap shot and a new low for this race. Virginians deserve better than personal attacks like this. Creigh Deeds isn't the smoothest speaker in the race, but when he speaks he is authentic and means what he says."

In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, Johnson said she sought to highlight Deeds' inability to "clearly communicate effective solutions" on important issues.

"I shouldn't have done it in the manner in which I did and for that I apologize for any offense he, or others, may have taken,"
Johnson said.
 

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