"To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen the e-mail I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior," Marilyn Davenport said in a statement obtained by CNN.
Davenport, who is a Tea Party activist and an elected member of the central committee of the Republican Party of Orange County, said she felt the e-mail was a joke, CNN affiliate KTLA reported.
The e-mail contains a doctored photo of what appears to be a family portrait of two adult chimpanzees posing with a young chimpanzee with Obama's face pasted on it.
The caption that ran with the photo says "Now you know why no birth certificate," the affiliate reported.
Davenport said she would not repeat her error in the apology that included two Bible passages.
"I am an imperfect Christian lady who tries her best to live a Christ-like honoring life," the statement said. "I would never do anything to intentionally harm or berate others regardless of ethnicity. So I ask for your forgiveness, for I am truly sorry."
Despite criticism, Davenport told the affiliate that she does not need to resign her position because of the e-mail.
Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, said he was surprised by the e-mail.
"There's no question the e-mail is racist. The only question is what was in Marilyn's heart, what was her intent. But I don't think there's anybody on her committee or anybody in the world really that doesn't see it as a racist," Baugh said on CNN's "AC360."
Baugh said he feels Davenport should resign.
"The bottom line is being sorry for something and having a sincere apology doesn't undo the action, it doesn't stop the consequences," Baugh said. "There's still consequences for what she's done and what she's done will continue to bring controversy to my party so I'm inclined to think at this time that she should still resign from the committee."