Rep. Clyburn: Gingrich ‘appealing’ to racist ‘element’ of GOP [VIDEO]

Nicholas Ballasy Senior Video Reporter
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The assistant Democratic leader, South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, accused former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of “appealing” to the racist tea party “element” of the Republican Party in his campaign. Gingrich won the South Carolina Republican presidential primary on Saturday.

“It’s appealing to the tea party element when you say that Barack Obama is the best food stamp president we’ve ever had, that limits his presidency to an element of dependency,” Clyburn said on Sunday on CNN.

Host Candy Crowley responded, “Well it’s a campaign and he’s making the point that food stamps have gone up and jobs have gone down. I mean, is that necessarily sort of a racist comment?”

“It’s not necessarily so,” Clyburn said, “but a ‘welfare queen’ being uttered by Ronald Reagan is not necessarily a comment of dependency, but people know what that means: Richard Nixon — a southern strategy. Now, all of this carries certain connotations that people know very, very well, and I think that he [Gingrich] practiced that perfectly.”

Crowley then asked Clyburn if he thinks Gingrich is a racist.

“No, I never use that word and I don’t ever call anybody anything that resembles that but I’m saying he’s appealing to an element of his party that will see President Obama as different than all the other presidents that we have had.”

Crowley interrupted, saying, “Him being African American.”

“There’s only one thing that makes him different from all the other president’s that we’ve had,” Clyburn continued.

PolitiFact has rated Gingrich’s “food stamp” charge “half true.”

“Gingrich is correct that food stamp use is at its highest level in both raw numbers and as a percentage of the U.S. population since the program began in 1969. Case closed? Not quite. Gingrich’s talking point implies that this is Obama’s fault,” says a post on PolitiFact.

“Clearly, the rise in food stamps is a direct consequence of the most recent recession, which began more than a year before Obama took office. It’s impossible to know how high [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] usage would have gone had the Republicans, rather than Obama, shaped policy in 2009 and 2010.”

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