Charles Rangel: Pols from ‘slaveholder states’ - Jonathan Topaz - POLITICO.com - Liar Liar!
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Charles Rangel: Pols from ‘slaveholder states’ - Jonathan Topaz - POLITICO.com

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New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, locked in a contentious primary battle, suggested in an interview that aired Monday that the level of Republican opposition to President Barack Obama is partly due to race.

When asked by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt whether GOP opposition to the president is “based on race,” Rangel paused and said, “You know, that’s a subjective question. But, let me say this: Are most of the states that they represent, are they in the Confederate states that fought the Union? Were they slaveholder states? And when they come to Washington, do you see more Confederate flags than American flags?”

Rangel, an 84-year-old, African-American congressman who has served in Congress for more than four decades, added that he thought some Republicans were willing to hurt themselves politically by opposing the Obama administration’s domestic agenda just to attack him.

“Who would hurt their own people — in terms of cutting off health, job opportunity, food stamps — to get after this president? It takes a lot of hatred to hurt yourself just to embarrass the president. So, I’m trying to think with the tea party — and basically what they have said and what their spokespeople have said — this would not be the same if the president was not of color,” he said.

Rangel’s comments come after Sen. Jay Rockefeller last month said that Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act was motivated in part by race. The retiring West Virginia Democrat said that some in the GOP don’t want the implementation of the health law to succeed because they don’t personally like the president and maybe he’s of the wrong color.”

Race has become a factor in the primary campaign between Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, a Dominican-American who nearly defeated the congressman in 2012. Hispanics have increasing comprised more of Rangel’s redrawn district, which includes Harlem, and the congressman has accused his challenger of trying to take advantage of the changing demographics. Voters head to the poll on Tuesday.

“Pundits say I’m in trouble because there are more Latinos in the Bronx than blacks,” Rangel said earlier in the campaign. “I don’t know what motivated [Espaillat], if not that, to run.”

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