A senior adviser to the pro-Gingrich super PAC “Winning Our Future” claimed on Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was not using coded racial language, and pointed the finger at Democrats for once having a “racist platform.”
Following Mitt Romney’s win in the Florida Republican primary, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked former Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler what Gingrich meant by calling President Barack Obama a “food stamp president” and the “entertainer-in-chief.”
“I hear Mr. Gingrich trying to appeal to Southern white conservatives who may be responding to essentially racially biased coded language about the president that’s designed to call on the resentment of African-American achievement in this country,” Maddow told him.
“Baloney,” Tyler replied. “MSNBC ought to get off this race-baiting kick. If you want to talk about race baiting, if you want to talk about the Republican Party, the Republican Party was started by Abraham Lincoln. We fought a civil war. Six of the nine planks in the 1856 platform were civil rights platform. This started as a civil rights party. If you go back to the 1856 Democratic platform, it’s a racist platform.”
Maddow pointed out that it had been in this election cycle that Gingrich had said he would go to the NAACP to tell them that blacks should not be satisfied with food stamps.
“There is a pattern here of very, I think, obviously racially coded language that has nothing to do with the parties in the civil war,” she said.
“I don’t understand this,” Tyler insisted. “The president sings, Newt Gingrich makes a little thing and all the sudden it’s a racist thing. More people are on food stamps today because of Barack Obama. And look, the Democratic Party, they fail in their schools — you can ask Al Sharpton about that. I think he would agree that the Democrats have failed in the public schools with the African Americans. They abort their babies. They’ve done nothing to lift them out of poverty.”
“Newt Gingrich is who brought race up in this campaign,” MSNBC host Al Sharpton interrupted. “He brought up race. Now you need to answer his bringing it up. If he didn’t want to deal with race, why did he bring up race?”
“Al, 98 percent of African Americans vote Democrat, and what have they gotten for it?” Tyler asked. “They have gotten poor schools, poor neighborhoods, crime-ridden neighborhoods, destruction of the family and the Democrats want to abort their babies.”
“We vote our interest,” Sharpton objected. “Republicans were the Abe Lincoln party and was the party of Little Rock. We voted Republican. Like anybody else in America, sir, we vote our interests. Republican or not. Why would we vote for people who call our parents criminals, that says — you can’t even admit that you’re wrong on the facts on food stamps. We’re not sadists or masochists!”
“I haven’t said the Republican Party has done a good job of reaching out to African Americans,” Tyler admitted. “I think that Newt Gingrich has tried to reach out to African Americans and said there is another party, there is another set of policies that work better for the American family, including the African-American family.”
“What you are trying to do is rationalize something that is irrational,” Sharpton shot back. “Mr. Gingrich has not laid out a policy. He has tried to use us as a backboard to score with what he perceives as far right-wing voters.”
Watch this video from MSNBC, broadcast Jan. 31, 2012.