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. Jane

    So the congressman is offended by Biden's racist pandering, decides to it's the last straw, and will switch parties...and he is vilified by posters on this board. Apparently Obama apologists will excuse anything and demonize anyone that stands up to him. Sad.

    August 15, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. gt

    bfd...everyone knows joe is a joke

    August 15, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  3. Investment Advisor

    @Margaret..."Of course I'm going to win, I'm a white guy." This is the kind of crap that fuels divisiveness....PLEASE reveal your source or media on this, I want to see for myself. There has been a lot of accusations claiming racism on the part of conservatives. I have yet to see any visual proof. I've seen and heard much on the liberal side but their not being accused. Do not back away from this!

    August 15, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. lex

    Come on. Biden is a slime bucket. and he is continue to be one no matter what happens with the election.

    August 15, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  5. therealbartonfunk

    First, Biden is right. The rich white folks and the corporations are going to put us all in chains. slavery, indentured servitude, or prison ... call it what you want but we're already heading down that road. But, though it's predominantly the racist GOTeaP the Dems are also to blame. We have more inequity since before the Great Depression. We have more people in jail/prison than any other country in the world. The people not in jail are in financial prison – just like the company store, we own and work for the same company. We can't keep going down the same path. The GOTeaP is the bullet train to chains, but the Dems are only a slower commuter bus.

    August 15, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  6. Troy

    Another one taking the V.P words out of context. Im glad these republicans are showing how desperate they are using snipets to fuel their racial division. He is a republican right?

    August 15, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  7. Bill Owens

    OK, so one more former Obama supporter. That list grows each day.

    August 15, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  8. Emory Newman

    Artur Davis is a loser from Al.He turned his back o the blk community durning his run for the Gov. of Al.He refused to meet with any of the blk organizations of the state.He lost all credibility in the state.This guy moved to VA.and joined the republican party.People in Va. look at this guy very close and don't trust him.He is trying to make a name for himself by bashing the President.Alabama is my home,this guy is a turn coat and cannot be trusted!

    August 15, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. MaryM

    Poor guy, sold his soul to the GOP

    August 15, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  10. Aditya Adhikari

    This is the same racist guy who said in 2008 and Media and Obama ignored

    “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

    and yesterday he confirmed he does not consider African Americans "Americans".

    Wake-up African Americans you have trust in a guy who is racist 100%.

    Obama needs to dump him at the convention there is still time if you want my VOTE again.

    August 15, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  11. Emory Newman

    Biden told the truth! Why would the Dems spend time cleaning up the truth?Never apologize for the truth.

    August 15, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  12. Smalltowner

    I don't think the VP mean't what Mr. Davis is trying too imply. But if Mr. Davis ever hung around local red state bars(redneck bars) The comment wasn't too far out of context.

    August 15, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  13. wealthcoaches

    Only folks with an agenda would think that Biden meant something racist. He's Joe "mistake makin'" Biden... it's par for the course. The bigger gaff was leaving the stage here in Danville with "Together, we can win again in North Carolina".... uh, really Joe? Nobody told you that you were in Virginia? I'm sure Obama was face palming on that one...

    August 15, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  14. Joe

    Completely amazing how many black folk are totally fooled by Obama. Especially 'Dominican mama 4 Obama". Guess she still wants to be on the government plantation.

    August 15, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  15. Theend

    “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me liberty or give me death!” - Patrick Henry, American Patriot

    August 15, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  16. Mike

    Biden was not propagating "racial viciousness" – YOU are, Mr. Davis. Get over the hypersensitivity to every freakin' remark having something to do with racism. Stop racial viciousness by acting like everything is about race – get over it, you were never in chains so what does his choice of words matter? Are you seriously fanning the flames of hatred about something that maybe your great-great grandfather endured? Jesus, man, move on!!!

    August 15, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  17. dssman

    What Biden said was right on target.He was proving Just the Republican southern strategy which goes back to the communist strategy of the 40s and 5s with the 'reds under the beds'. Today they have created the Muslim strategy in which every Muslim is a terrorist. Romney has shown his contempt to Palestinians.. Romney wants to give the wealthy tax breaks off the backs of the middle class. He believes that the rich will have a trickle down theory but it fails in that economic growth comes from small business not from the super rich. His policy is nothing but self serving. With his VP selection he has now turned on raiding the retirees Social Security which all workers contributed to and Medicare.

    August 15, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  18. Phil

    Joe was right. Romney's idea of a jobs plan is to have everyone work for free as an unpaid intern. Let's see, work for no pay... Hmmmm... What is that? Could it be slavery?

    August 15, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  19. taskmaster

    Joe Biden is Obamas propaganda minister Just like Josef Gobbels was for Adolf Hitler.

    August 15, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  20. Miriam

    Davis, You've got to be kidding. Are you going to become a Republican who displays racism everyday, or do you have a new high paying job?? What a jerk and a traitor. SHAME ON YOU. The Black people in that meeting do not thing Biden is racist. They will probably think you are.

    August 15, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  21. LIB

    As an Black American, people like Davis make me sick. It would be different if wasn't saying this because he has na ulterior motive. THis is another Adam West. He said he became a repub so he could get another position. If that is the reason.that shows he is not a sincere person and Obama is lucky to have lost him. Has he not heard all the racist namecalling the repubs have called Obama? Mitt's comment was also racist tellin Obama to take his anger, divisiveness back to Chicago. I have never not once heard any Dem say anything about where mitt is from nor have I ever heard Obama say anything disrespectful about anybody. The president always takes the highroad.

    August 15, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  22. Kyle

    Follow the money. Always follow the money. There you will find Davis's true loyalty. Sell out.

    August 15, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. doug

    If someone can come up with a reasonable difference between "shackles" and "chains," I'll vote for Romney......................................................................................nah, just kiddin'. No I won't.

    August 15, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  24. Really?

    @Dominican Mama for (Collectivist Agitator in Chief) you say, "twisting a good man's words"? What good man? Biden? Bahahahaha! Seriously? The GOOD MAN is DAVIS who the Dems blacklist because he came to his senses and speaks the truth.

    August 15, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  25. Really?

    Sniffit
    "Racial tension is worse under Obama."

    DUH.

    Anyone who thought that the election of a black man as POTUS would have any other effect than to cause white conservatives around the country to lose their everloving minds hasn't been paying any attention whatsoever for over half a century.
    -----
    Sorry Sniffer but the fact is: it's not race. You have no idea how many people would love to have Condi Rice as president and Allen West as VP. Face reality kiddo!

    August 15, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
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