The top GOP candidates who emerged from yesterday’s Iowa Caucus have a few things in common: They’re all white. They’re all men. And they’ve all been accused of racism. Some of these claims proved baseless, but others — we think — are legitimate.
The NewsOne Team put together a short list of the top GOP candidates — in the order in which they placed in last night’s voting — along with the racial accusations levied against them.
1) Mitt Romney
Washington Post blogger Elizabeth Flock wrote a Dec. 14 blog post titled “Mitt Romney is using a KKK slogan in his speeches.” Flock’s post began as follows:
Someone didn’t do his research.
On Tuesday, political commenters reported that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney has been using a catchphrase in his stump speeches that the Ku Klux Klan favored in the 1920s.
When the white supremacist group used “Keep America American,” it was to rally people against blacks American, gay people, Catholics and Jews. When Romney’s used it, as he did in this Los Angeles Times piece, it was to promise that as president he would “keep America American with the principles that made us the greatest nation on Earth.”
There’s only one problem. The accusation isn’t true. The Washington Post Executive Editor and its ombudsman published articles pointing out errors in Flock’s reporting and her editor’s lack of oversight.
MSNBC ran a similar story and “Hardball’s” Chris Matthews went on air to apologize for it soon after.
2) Rick Santorum
Was Rick Santorum echoing Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” rhetoric of the 1980s when he told a room of mostly white voters in Iowa that he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”
And what about that suggestion that Obama ought to be anti-abortion because he is a black man? Was Santorum trying to evoke the emotional support of right-wing conservatives with divisive racial rhetoric?
We think so. Political stump speeches, especially at the level of presidential politics, are well-crafted and thought-out. No syllable is left needlessly dangling for a commentator or prowling reporter ready to snatch and convert it into a mini-controversy.
That Santorum would not be aware of this, especially in light of GOP’s past with racism, seems farfetched. At the very least, he is guilty of racial pandering. He says he doesn’t even remember making either of the comments. Pretty sloppy, Rick. Just say you misspoke and move on.
3) Ron Paul
The Libertarian Congressman’s proverbial Rolodex is starting to look like a KKK roll call. NewsOne recently published a story noting Ron Paul’s ties to leaders of racist organizations. And these are not stereotypical backwoods hicks we’re talking about, either. Leading the pack is Don Black, a former Grand Wizard of the KKK and current American Nazi Party member. While he denies he himself is a racist, Paul makes little effort to disavow the views of racists who support his nomination.
And those “Ron Paul Political Report” newsletters from 20 years ago continue to hover over his campaign as well. A New York Times article states that one of the articles refers to the Martin Luther King holiday as “Hate Whitey Day.” Paul denies writing or knowing anything about any of the racially charged articles that have come to light in the past month.
When a CNN reporter asked him how he could not have known about the incendiary language spewed on the pages of the publication that carried his name, he walked out of the interview.
Not the best way to fight claims you’re a racist, Mr. Paul. Especially if you’re running for President. And while we’re on Ron Paul…
4) Newt Gingrich
Gingrich took Ron Paul to task on the newsletters during a GOP debate, but he’s had his own racial flaps. During an interview with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, he referred to Obama as the “Food Stamp President.” Of course, he knew what he was saying. Newt is good ol’ boy from Georgia who knows all too well how to employ racial coding. Gingrich prides himself on his historical acumen, so he could argue he didn’t know that “Food Stamp President” would resonate negatively with black voters and galvanize reactionary whites.
The GOP primary season is young, leaving plenty of time for more of these race bombs. Stay tuned to NewsOne as we track them…