Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

DNC chair: GOP candidates using ‘code words’ to ‘out right wing’ each other

30th January 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Hazel Trice Edney
Contributing Writer

( – Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz says the racially “divisive” language of the GOP field of presidential candidates has been deliberately crafted to appeal to the right wing “Tea Party” element of the Republican Party in the GOP’s attempt to unseat the nation’s first Black president.

“I think comments like Newt Gingrich made about President Obama being the ‘food stamp president’ – those are carefully chosen words. The entire field has been extremely divisive,” Shultz said in a Sunday afternoon telephone press conference. “They’ve spent this entire primary season trying to out right wing each other, using extreme and outrageous language.”

Shultz held the phone conference as the candidates now focus on the Florida primary coming up Jan. 31. A Democratic Congressional representative of Florida, Shultz’s opening comments were especially aimed at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the long-perceived front-runner.

“As we saw in South Carolina, voters are starting to learn more about Mitt Romney and they don’t like what they are finding. They are learning he has no core values, wants to play by a different set of rules, will say anything to get elected, and is out of touch with the middle class,” she said. “Voters want someone they can trust, who shares their vision and understands their plight. And they are finding that Mitt Romney is not that person.”

But, Shultz showed no favoritism. She also zeroed in on Gingrich as a prime offender among the Republican candidates when it comes to the “divisive” language.

“Of course, the winner of South Carolina is no better,” she said. “Newt Gingrich wants to balance our nation’s budget on the backs of the middle class while showering the wealthiest with more tax breaks. During this campaign he has used divisive language to pander to the Tea Party and take the focus off of the real issues at hand.”

During questions and answers, Shultz was asked to expound upon her use of the word “divisive”. She described, “Language like the comments like Newt Gingrich made, which for people who pay close attention and hear those comments throughout their lives, know the coded words that are carefully chosen. And so, that particular comment was one example, but Newt Gingrich has done a great job of using divisive language and using code words to be as extreme as possible for his whole career – Not unprecedented for him.”

Gingrich, former speaker of the House, has a history of antagonism with Black leaders. He was recently lambasted by NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous after Gingrich said during the New Hampshire primary, “If the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention, talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

“It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country,” said Jealous. “The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job.”

Jealous added, “We invited Speaker Gingrich to attend our annual convention several times when he was Speaker of the House, but he declined to join us…If he is invited again, I hope that he would come, with the intention to unite rather than divide.”

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture date, more Whites than Blacks receive food-stamp assistance. Whites accounted for 34.4 percent of food-stamp recipients in 2009, compared to Blacks who accounted for 21.4 percent of recipients, according to an October 2010 USDA report quoted by Jealous.

Jealous and other Black leaders have also assailed the Tea Party, describing some of its members as using “racist” tactics, including racially inflammatory language and insulting images of President Obama duirng its rallys.

The quest for the Republican nomination of who will challenge President Obama has now split three ways. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was belatedly declared the winner in the Iowa caucuses, Jan. 3, with 24.56 percent of the vote. Romney prevailed in the New Hampshire primary with 39.4 percent of the vote on Jan. 10. And Gingrich, in a surprising come-from-behind victory, won the South Carolina primary with 40 percent of the vote Jan. 21. Libertarian, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has not won a primary or caucus, but vows to stay in the race as long as he has a significant following.

With Gingrich, Romney and Santorum now split between the first three states, it appears the race is long from over. Essentially anything could happen between now and June 26, when the last primary is held in Utah.

“Regardless of who becomes the Republican nominee, all of the candidates in the race support the failed policies of the past that drove us to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” says Shultz. “That’s not what the American people want, and that’s why they know that the clear choice in this election is President Obama.”

This article was originally published in the January 30, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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