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Former House Speaker Speaker Newt Gingrich promised Thursday in New Hampshire if he is the GOP presidential nominee to go to the NAACP and “tell the African-American community why they should demand paychecks instead of food stamps,” as first reported by Slate.

Another GOP candidate, ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, sounded like he told Iowa Republicans last week “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

(Santorum has now denied he used the word “black,” but the video of the event suggests he did). And earlier in the campaign, he argued Obama should be opposed to abortion, noting “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, ‘we’re going to decide who are people and who are not people.'”)

All three comments were odd, as their invocations of race were unprompted by questions from the audiences. And they came as the two are campaigning for a presidential nomination in a party that is overwhelmingly white and in two states (Iowa and New Hampshire) with little racial diversity.

But here are three reasons why Santorum and Gingrich have brought up race in the campaign.

1. They’re trying to appeal to GOP primary voters — Republican base voters don’t just blame President Obama for the poor economy; they believe he is taking the country in a direction against its values.

Without using racial terms, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has made a similar argument to Gingrich, suggesting Obama wants to create an “entitlement society” instead of an “opportunity society.” Romney casts Obama as trying to send the country in a European direction.

The argument by Gingrich and Santorum suggests blacks and others who are out of work don’t want jobs, even as the overwhelming data on the recession suggests the problem is that are not enough jobs and too many applicants. Gingrich’s remark in particular seems aimed at the “welfare queens” Reagan invoked in the 1980s, arguing large segments of Americans simply don’t want to work.

Read more at thegrio.com

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