Perdue seemed to be telling a joke -- he started his next sentence with "in all seriousness" -- but Psalm 109 has repeatedly gotten Republicans in trouble during the Obama era. Bumper stickers reading "Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8" appeared during the first year of his presidency, and from time to time, government officials have apologized or been laid off after citing it.
The problem is in the rest of the Psalm, which is aimed at "the wicked and the deceitful." The verses right after 109:8 delineate a series of curses:
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
After Perdue's comments circulated on social media, the office of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) condemned them.
“If Republicans are still wondering why Donald Trump is their nominee, look no further than today’s Faith and Freedom conference where a sitting Republican Senator left the impression he was praying for the death of President Obama and then the Republican Leader followed him on stage and did not condemn him," said Reid's communications director Kristen Orthman.
Asked about the comment at today's White House press conference, Josh Earnest joked that the senator had not yet RSVP'd for the congressional picnic.
"As Senator Perdue considers whether or not an apology is appropriate, there are a variety of other Scripture he might consult," said Earnest.
Megan Whittemore, a spokeswoman for Perdue, criticized Democrats for reacting as if Perdue was dead serious.
"Senator Perdue said we are called to pray for our country, for our leaders and for our president," she said. "He in no way wishes harm towards our president and everyone in the room understood that. However, we should add the media to our prayer list because they are pushing a narrative to create controversy and that is exactly what the American people are tired of."