Rep. Charles Rangel, whose mantra is that he hasn’t had a bad day since almost losing his life in the Korean War, may be singing another tune after his June 26 primary. Plagued by health and ethics issues as well as stiff competition in a redrawn district, Rangel needs all the help he can get to win his bid for a 22nd term, but the 81-year-old congressman says he doesn’t need President Obama’s support.
That’s not to say he wouldn’t welcome it, Rangel told CNN Wednesday. In 2010, however, when Rangel was mired in a House ethics investigation of financial improprieties for which he was ultimately censured, the president said the New York lawmaker was at “the end of his career” and he hoped he would end it “with dignity.” And when the two met at Barnard College’s commencement ceremony on Monday, Obama reportedly was not as warm as he could have been.
When asked about the president’s comments and treatment of him at Barnard, Rangel brushed both off.
“What did he really say? That I reached the end of my career. I’ve been here for 41 years, now going on 42. That he wished I leave with dignity. I have no question that I will and his wishes will be fulfilled,” he said. “What did he say that was so derogatory if you take the words? Now true, he didn’t hug and kiss me like I wish he would, but I don’t have any problem.”
Rangel’s biggest problem is state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who stands a good chance of winning the new district that now includes many more Latino voters, but he says he's up to the challenge. He also responded to calls for him to step down because of his age and length of service.
"Give me a break," Rangel said.
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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)