An Orange County Republican Central Committee member who sent an email with a picture of President Barack Obama's face on the body of a baby chimpanzee apologized Wednesday, saying she was an "imperfect Christian."
Marilyn Davenport conducted a news conference, reading a statement which included a Bible passage from the book of James, then took questions from reporters.
She also said Wednesday she will not resign.
"To my fellow Americans who have seen the e-mail that I forwarded and were offended by my actions, I humbly apologize," Davenport said. "I ask for your forgiveness for my unwise behavior. I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive. I'm an imperfect Christian gal who does her best to live a Godly life.
"I would never do anything to intentionally harm or berate others regardless of ethnicity. Everyone who knows me, knows that to be true," Davenport said. "I will not repeat this error. So I ask for your forgiveness, for I am truly sorry."
When asked who she offended, Davenport said, "I assume I have offended the black people. Having friends who are black, I never intended for that."
The Orange County Republican Central Committee will meet Wednesday tonight to discuss the issue. Davenport was not expected to attend because she has received death threats, according to committee member Tim Whitacre.
Local news from across Southern California
"She's horrified this has happened and she's horrified anyone would be offended by this," he said.
Whitacre said Davenport should not be punished because she has apologized.
Republican Party of Orange County Chairman Scott Baugh said other than passing a resolution critical of Davenport there's not much action the committee can take against her.
"The bottom line is state law precludes the committee from terminating her membership," Baugh told City News Service. "She's an elected member, elected by the public, and there are very narrow reasons you can remove her, and her racist e-mail is not one of them."
Los Angeles political analyst and civil rights leader Earl Ofari Hutchinson said Tuesday night Davenport's apology was not enough and that she must step down from her post.
"The request by Orange County GOP Chair Scott Baugh for Davenport's resignation and pending investigation is not enough. Davenport must resign or be expelled, and a public apology made to President Obama and his family," Hutchinson said in an e-mail to NBC LA. "The Reverend Al Sharpton has also demanded Davenport’s resignation."
Hutchinson, president of the influential Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable demanded that the RNC formally censure Davenport for her email "of a racist, inflammatory, and despicable photo depicting President Obama and his family as monkeys."
The group also demanded that the RNC officially urge the Orange County GOP to issue an apology to the President. "Anything less than censure and an apology reinforces the notion that the national GOP tacitly condones racist words and acts by its officials," Hutchinson said.
Davenport is scheduled to appear on CNN tonight with Anderson Cooper.