Marilyn Davenport spoke publicly for the first time outside her Fullerton home with her husband at her side. She read a written apology she issued Monday.
"I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior," said Davenport, a member of the Republican Party's Orange County Central Committee.
Davenport said she has received phone threats from across the country after sending the controversial email showing the president's face superimposed on the body of a baby chimpanzee. Below, it read "Now you know why - No birth certificate!"
She said she didn't think of the historical implications when she sent the email to several Central Committee members and a dozen friends.
"It struck me as just political satire with all that's going on with the birth certificate," said Davenport, who questions Obama's birthplace. "I think it's only racist when the intent in my heart is to make it that way, and that was not the intent of my heart."
Now serving her fourth elected term, Davenport has been urged by civil rights activists and the Orange County GOP chairman to resign.
"I do not plan to resign. I am getting comments from my constituents asking me to please do not resign," she said.
Until Wednesday, Davenport had not publicly addressed the scandal created by her email. She also had a statement for the president.
"To the president, I would say it was inappropriate," she said. "I would not do that again."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.