Black Republican leaders are demanding that President Barack Obama apologize for what they consider a racially insensitive remark that he made on the campaign trail this weekend.
During a campaign swing the president said, "We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for a ride, but they gotta sit in back."
Dr. Timothy F. Johnson, the black Republican who heads the Frederick Douglass Foundation, told Newsmax in an e-mail Wednesday that Obama should immediately apologize for the offensive reference to the Jim Crow era.
"Once again the president is perpetuating the racism that exists, and [is] portrayed by the so-called Civil Rights organizations and their leaders," Johnson stated.
"Americans are sick and tired of these divisive statements the president continues to make," he added. "Our first objective is November 2, 2010.
"Next is to find the next president of the United States, and retire President Obama to Chicago, Hawaii, or Kenya in Nov. 2012," stated Johnson.
Johnson is not alone in finding the president's "sit in back" remark offensive.
Frances Rice, chairman of the National Black Republican Association, tells Newsmax: "As evidenced by his words and actions on numerous occasions, President Obama deliberately engages in the politics of race-baiting for partisan political gain, a tactic Democrats have used since the days of slavery. I believe Obama knew a racially-tinged image would result from his saying Republicans should be put in the back of his metaphorical car, and he would not even consider apologizing."
What if a Republican president had made such a remark? asked Fox News contributor Monica Crowley. She said it would have triggered an uproar from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
"I think after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, riding in the back certainly does have some Civil Rights and racial overtones to it, and you can't tell me the president of the United States wasn't aware of it when he said it," Crowley said Wednesday on Fox News. "I found his comment there appalling [and] I found his refusal to address it in a straightforward way also appalling."
The "sit in back" remark is part of a pattern of increasingly divisive rhetoric from the president in the run up to the midterm elections, Crowley said.
In one recent example, on Monday President Obama urged Latinos to "punish our enemies" during a Univision broadcast.
“If Latinos sit out the election," Obama said, "instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder . . . "
Crowley added: "This is nothing new. Ever since this man became president nearly two years ago now, he has constantly used this kind of incredibly divisive rhetoric. He seems to forget that he's no longer campaigning.
"He's the president of the United States. The president is supposed to be the president of all the people, even those who disagree with his agenda and who disagree with him," Crowley said.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs did not shy away from the controversial "sit in back" statement when asked about it in a press briefing.
He portrayed it as part of the ongoing metaphor that the president has used to assert Republicans drove the economy into a ditch.
“The president said this weekend that the Republicans are going to ride in the back and the middle class will be in the passenger’s seat,” Gibbs said.
In a none-too-subtle jab he added: “We’re certainly concerned with backseat driving.”
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