August 15th, 2012
04:59 PM ET
2 years ago

Former Obama campaign co-chair: Biden's remarks 'racial viciousness'

(CNN) – Artur Davis, the former four-term Democratic congressman from Alabama, said Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden was propagating "racial viciousness" when he said Mitt Romney's regulatory policies would "put y'all back in chains."

Biden made the comments Tuesday to a predominantly black crowd in Danville, Virginia, a city with a long history of racial tension. In May Davis announced he was switching to the GOP, leaving the door open to a future political bid as a Republican.

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"[Romney] is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street," Biden said. "He is going to put y'all back in chains."

Davis, who is black, said the comment smacked of a type of divisiveness he said was all too common in the South.

"It brought back memories for me," Davis told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room." "It brought back memories of these Democratic politicians in the South, who think they can go before crowds and say one thing and nobody else will hear it, and they'll somehow get a cheer in the room and that they can blithely go on about their business."

Saying Biden went to a place he "never should have gone" in his remarks, Davis called the vice president's words insulting.

"It's a divisive tactic that's insulting to African Americans," Davis said. "It's insulting to the American people. It's insulting to the legacy that he used to build up as an orator who used to know how to inspire people instead of strike fear in people's heart."

Davis, who campaigned for Mitt Romney Wednesday in Virginia, may be best known for seconding Obama's nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, when he served as an Obama campaign co-chairman.

Davis said he had hoped Obama's presidency would make a huge dent in race relations, as well as move the Democratic Party further to the center. Biden's comments, Davis said, should embarrass the president.

"It ought to embarrass President Obama," he said. "President Obama has talked so movingly about our country moving beyond race, and his own vice president makes this kind of comment yesterday? It was wrong and the president ought to be embarrassed by it, and the president ought to say it was wrong."

On Tuesday, Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter attempted to dispel the controversy around Biden's remarks, comparing his words to Republicans who have called for the "unshackling" of the private sector from regulations in recent months.

"Since then, the Vice President has often used a similar metaphor to describe the need to 'unshackle' the middle class," Cutter said in a statement. "Today's comments were a derivative of those remarks, describing the devastating impact letting Wall Street write its own rules again would have on middle class families."

Cutter added that they "find the Romney campaign's outrage over the Vice President's comments today hypocritical, particularly in light of their own candidate's stump speech questioning the President's patriotism."

Davis wrote off that explanation as "spin" in "The Situation Room" Wednesday, saying he gave Obama's team "credit for creativity."

"But I happen to have spoken to a few African-American audiences in my time, represented a predominantly African-American district," Davis said. "I know what Joe Biden was doing yesterday, and every black person in the room knew who the 'y'all' was, they knew what the chains were about, and they knew what the metaphor was."

CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Joe Biden • Uncategorized
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. nitro

    Dude no one is paying you any attention. Please go join the Godfather of Pizza in political obscurity.

    August 15, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Oh please. This man is bitter that he lost in 2010 because the minority vote wasn't a lock and adopting Teatroll talking opints lost him what should have been his base.

    Besides, where the GOPers/Teatrolls cring "racial viciousness" when Bachman repeatedly used the word "slavery" about taxes...when Boehner talked about "shackling"...when Allen West literally said "Obama wasnts you to be his slave" and talked about the "Democratic plantation"? Methinks Dipsy Davis got a phone call today from some GOP up-n-ups and was asked to put his "skin" in this giant game of feigned outrage from the GOP/Teatrolls.

    August 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. g

    this guy is for sale to the highest bidder

    August 15, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Kermit Blackwood

    What a sensitive wall flower. Davis didn't earn a reach around from Obama and now he's going to get attention with this obviously racialist move. Romney is paying this idiot. Romney is using racialist coded language in his campaign. Davis already switched parties. In my opinion, as an African American, Davis has no credibility.

    August 15, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. Don't let the door knob hit you...

    Dude, please stop letting them make a fool out of you. It's definitely not a good look and it's extremely transparent. Your lil feelings are not hurt....LOSER!

    August 15, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. jon

    Oh, get over it! Man we sure can't wait for this election to be OVER – and President Obama is back in office. Unless you want to vote for a Republican and have them rip us a new one again.

    August 15, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. dannn

    Lesseee here....Romney campaigner doesn't like Biden telling the truth, and so spouts faux outrage.

    This is news?

    August 15, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. Theend

    "...All day long they work so hard, Till the sun is goin' down, Working on the highways and byways, And wearing, wearing a frown, You hear them moanin' their lives away, Then you hear somebody sa-ay, That's the sound of the men working on the chain ga-a-ang..." - "Chain Gang" Sam Cooke

    August 15, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. BrightStar

    Strange how the truth hurts.

    Vulture/Voucher 2012 The Loser Team

    August 15, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. drake mallard

    Rick Santorum Thinks It's All Black People on Welfare

    August 15, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Jean2

    Mr. D avis PLEASE!!! If you must change parties that is your choice, but Please be a good sport about your change and/ or your recent lost.

    Why are you so sensitive?????

    August 15, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. nvmature

    I agree it was an unnecessary comment. Leave such racially divisive talk to Newt Gingrich and the Republicans.

    August 15, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Santorum used a similar analogy, and the right wingnuts did not seem to mind. I think that the republicans are the biggest whiniest, lyingest group of bigots to ever make up a political party.

    August 15, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. J CFrew

    This uncle tom former congressman is a liar ,no one booed ,because we all agreed with the biden.
    we knor that romney is not for blacks and latins.

    August 15, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. Navtej

    Does Arthur Davis criticize Republican's right wing ideaology? Does he endorse Ryan's plans for medicare, medicaid, social security? Who cares what Arthur Davis thinks? Let him support Tea Baggers

    August 15, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Debbie

    I don't see where Biden told a lie!!! He spoke the truth!!!! Letting Wall Street have their way again, and we will be back in chains.....Sad all people think chains and think slavery......I am sure he did not mean slavery although it was coming from a white man......All the damn race-baiting coming from FOX News and Rush Limbaugh.....

    August 15, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. hecanet

    The crowd was not booing Biden...they were booing whoever wants to put them in chains. Do you even listen with your ears? When Obama mentioned 'Ryan' the other day...the crowd booed; but you are such they weren't booing the president...they were booing Ryan...you have to follow these things accurately...but the president motioned at them to keep it low till he makes his point...well, many of you amaze me on television..

    August 15, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. hecanet

    The crowd was not booing Biden...they were booing whoever wants to put them in chains. Do you even listen with your ears? When Obama mentioned 'Ryan' the other day...the crowd booed; but you can be sure they weren't booing the president...they were booing Ryan...you have to follow these things accurately...but the president motioned at them to keep it low till he makes his point...well, many of you amaze me on television..

    August 15, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Cassie

    I don't care about this how about focusing on the candidates and what they have to offer this country this is no different than Spector who was Rep and changed Dem. Can we move on to other important things you are not helping to stop the silly crap in politics.

    August 15, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. Captain Awesome

    Welcome, Congressman Davis. The water is just fine over here.

    August 15, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Larry L

    The new niche for African Americans looking for political sugar daddies is that of a Oreo political commentator. I wonder if he saw the signs at the 2010 Tea Party rallies showing the President with a bone in his nose? Did he read the racist comments? When the election is over the Republicans will throw the stale cookies in the trash...

    August 15, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. politics as usual

    I voted for Obama, in part, because I thought he would be an inspiration to other blacks, and maybe even end the racial divide that has so often plagued us, but, instead, race relations are worse under this president than at any other time in modern history. I am shocked and dismayed that he has not come out to repudiate Biden's remarks. Never have I regretted a vote the way I regret that one.

    Romney/Ryan 2012!!!

    August 15, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. nitro

    My problem is Cut and Run said he hoped that President Obamas presidency woulld put a dent in race relations. What exactly did you do Cut and Run? You pointing a finger at the president for something that 4 terms wouldnt change but you want it done in 3 1/2 years. Take your Uncle Tom @ss back to Alabama because you are going to see the same thing in Virginia i dont know who told you it was different.

    August 15, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. demsrule

    As an African American, let me be the first to say that: Arthur Davis does not speak for anyone but himself, especially not Black people. He is self serving and have claimed to have switched "parties" because faults he have found with the Obama/Biden administration. Pretty timely switch, since millionaires have Romney in their hip pockets and while the GOP is padding his pocket with the cash that he could not get while a democrat. He has become what we have come to refer to from slavery as a "house N-–! He will do and say anything not to go back into the fields and will sell out anyone who opposes "Master Mitt"! So, he hasn't changed my mind nor the minds of the millions of people who see Willard and his henchmen for who they really are.

    August 15, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    Interesting non-story. Presumably Mr. Davis is free to vote for - and in his particular case become a paid
    supporter of - whichever candidate he chooses.

    No doubt he'll go far in the GOP, and good for him.

    August 15, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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