Rep. James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, swung back at former House speaker and White House hopeful Newt Gingrich for continuing to call President Obama the “food stamps president” while campaigning in Clyburn’s home state of South Carolina for this week’s GOP primary.
“To say those kinds of things about the president of the United States, I think, not only tries to lower the office itself, but also denigrates those people who find themselves in need of food stamps,” Clyburn said on Fox News Tuesday.
The South Carolina lawmaker also argued that while Americans’ dependency on food stamps may have increased during the Obama administration, it’s important to realize that it’s in large part due to the nation’s economic downfall that began while former President George W. Bush was in office.
“This man inherited an economy that was going into the ditch. You know that, everybody knows that. And what he had to do was stabilize a very sick economy before he could initiative any kind of recovery,” he said, adding that while families struggle with unemployment, government can “at least make sure that they’ve got food on their tables.”
Gingrich faced criticism during Monday’s Republican primary debate when moderator Juan Williams questioned whether blaming increased food stamps dependency on the president and asserting that poor children should go to work belittles African-Americans, which Gingrich denied.
In an interview with The New York Times, Glenn McCall, the GOP’s South Carolina committeeman, who is African-American, said that liberals are the ones who are race baiting and that, in fact, Blacks are disproportionately affected by the economy.
“I wish they would hold the president’s feet to the fire in the [Congressional Black Caucus] to do more — not through handouts, but in ways that lift people up,” McCall said.
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