(Photo: Courtesy of EW Jackson)
E.W. Jackson is not at the top of the Virginia statewide ticket, but the lieutenant governor candidate is the one everyone is talking about.
Since winning the Republican Party's nomination last weekend, tongues have been wagging about the long litany of controversial remarks Jackson has made over the years, including equating Planned Parenthood with the Ku Klux Klan and the Democratic Party with slave owners.
The attorney and minister has said that President Obama has the sensibilities of "an atheist and a Muslim" and is "an evil presence." He also has accused the NAACP of "anti-white racism" and believes gay relationships "defy God."
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, African-American Democratic leaders shot back at Jackson and his inflammatory statements.
"No person capable of rhetoric like that should ever be allowed anywhere near a position of responsibility in the government of this commonwealth. No person who would sit silently on the same ticket and refuse denounce those awful words is worthy of serving," said Roanoke City Council member Sherman Lea.
Alexandria's Mayor Bill Euille agreed that choosing Jackson, who he said is running on a "lifetime of divisive and hateful rhetoric that demeans the intelligence of African-American voters," raises serious questions about the credibility of his GOP running mates, gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli and state Sen. Mark Obenshain, the attorney general nominee, and the party overall.
"It's a ticket that has given us every indication we could need of where they will take this commonwealth if we elect them in November and that is not forward, but backward," Euille said. "We cannot allow that to happen."
In an interview with the Associated Press, former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder expressed doubt about Jackson's ability to attract African-American voters, but also said that Democrats need to step up.
"[They] have yet to show anyone what they're going to do," he said.
But according to Rev. Joseph Ellison, Republican activist based in Richmond, Black churches will support Jackson "all the way."
"I am going to stand with him and we are going to build a firewall with him and you're going to see the most aggressive effort you've ever seen to take his message into the inner cities," Ellison told AP.
In Wednesday's conference call, Lea said that most African-Americans will find Jackson's action and words offensive "and African-Americans will see through that."
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