The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said this morning on CNN that he made “absolutely nothing” out of Vice President Biden’s remarks in Virginia that Mitt Romney, by unleashing Wall Street, would “put you all back in chains.”
“I would never have even paid much attention to it, but for the fact that campaigns nowadays are waiting for any kind of little nugget to try to create an atmosphere of more and more discord,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
“And so it makes absolutely no sense that some kind of a little throwaway line is now being used to make Vice President Biden appear to have been throwing out these words in order to somehow attract dumb African-Americans who if they hear the words chains are going to automatically vote for him and President Obama,” he added.
Cleaver was asked if he’d be charging Romney with making racially charged statements had the former Massachusetts governor said the same thing as Biden.
“I’m not sure. I think it depends on the context. I know Vice President Biden. And when you look at the video that you just showed, there’s only a sprinkling of African-Americans there clearly the minority in that crowd,” Cleaver said.
“If he were at some kind of NAACP, SCLC event or some group with just African-Americans, I would say maybe he tried to generate some thoughts about things gone by,” he continued. “In that setting, it made no sense. The people out there weren’t thinking about the history of race relations in that community. They came to hear the vice president.”
The congressman was corrected that the audience was about half black.
“Yes. I mean, why would the vice president go into a setting like that where presumably half of the people wouldn’t have any understanding or feelings about what was going on?” Cleaver said. “The reality is that the discourse in our politics has become unsophisticated, unpolished, unnecessary and rather than try to raise the discord to some degree both sides look for little things that would remove the discussion from the things that matter to something that’s completely asinine.”
“I’ve been black all my life so that comment I can tell you would have no impact on me,” he said. “…I know that that statement by the vice president had absolutely no impact. There’s not a single black person in this country who is now going to say by golly, I’m going to vote for Obama and Biden because Biden said something about putting you back in chains.”