I was in a meeting last week, in which a very intelligent woman used a word which means, "grudging and petty in giving or spending." While this word is proper and found in dictionaries -- and is in no way relating to race -- the trouble is, this word sounds very much like "the 'N' Word."
My take was that she was unwise to use this word, even though it was technically grammatically correct. Why couldn't she just say "stingy," instead? In using the term, she may have impressed some with her vocabulary, but she distressed me with her judgment.
It is unwise for a leader or a communicator to use terms which will offend his or her audience. This doesn't mean that we should go overboard with the politically correct stuff (I will not use the term: "Personkind," for example). I truly believe Gov. Romney didn't know the term was sometimes used in a derisive manner. In short, I believe it was an honest gaffe.
As a matter of fact, people have been offended by a public official's use of the word niggardly. But they were just stupid. How can one possibly keep up with what will offend whom? Better to call a spade a spade than to give in to the whims of political correctness.