COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn said Tuesday that Gov. Mark Sanford should have told the state's lieutenant governor he would be traveling out of state before embarking on a hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail.
"I wish he had called the lieutenant governor and at least alerted him to the fact that he was going to be out of pocket," Clyburn told CNN. "That way we would not have any kind of possible crisis."
But Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, said he understands the need for politicians to escape from the public eye every now and then. "I think that we give up a lot of our privacy when he get into public office," he said.
Sanford reportedly left Columbia last Thursday in a state law enforcement vehicle. Clyburn said he did not think it was unusual for an official to slip away without telling security.
"I went to the barber shop this morning," Clyburn said. "I didn't tell my security detail. I think a lot of time we do that. So I don't see any real harm in that. But leaving the state is another question."
"I wish he had chosen the Palmetto Trail to hike upon, that way he could have stayed within the state and not created a possible crisis," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democratic Rep. James Clyburn on Friday defended his remark that opponents of the stimulus bill are insulting African-Americans.
The House Majority Whip argued that many of the federal funds are specifically targeted towards low-income minority communities. He also accused GOP governors who have resisted the stimulus of hypocrisy.
“Let’s take, for instance, Louisiana,” the South Carolina Democrat told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. “Gov. [Bobby] Jindal has been in my office a number of times. He has called me a number of times asking for billions of dollars in assistance to stand communities back up as a result of hurricane Katrina and Rita.”
“Yet he says there is something wrong with this money for the stimulus that comes from the same pot, that he sees nothing wrong when he’s trying to stand back up after Katrina,” he said.
Asked about opposition from South Carolina’s governor Mark Sanford, Clyburn said that in his home state, a chunk of the stimulus funds would be directed to the poorest counties along the I-95 corridor, a poverty-stricken region of the state most famous for its dilapidated schools.
He said it would be an affront to black South Carolinians in those counties if Sanford turns down the money.
“That’s why I called this an insult,” Clyburn said. “That’s why I said it's slap in the face. Because a majority of the people in these counties are African-Americans.”
Clyburn did not say that Republicans who oppose the funds are racists.
“I have never used that word in my life and I won’t use it now,” he said.
(CNN) – Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina said Thursday that GOP governors who oppose the stimulus bill are giving African-Americans “a slap in the face.”
Clyburn has been sparring with his state’s governor, Republican Mark Sanford, who has been a leading voice of opposition to the stimulus package. But the highest-ranking African-American in Congress said his frustration with the bill’s opponents isn’t limited to Sanford.
“The governor of Louisiana expressed opposition,” Clyburn said of the bill at a roundtable in Columbia, according to WIS TV. “Has the highest African-American population in the country. Governor of Mississippi expressed opposition. The governor of Texas, and the governor of South Carolina.
“These four governors represent states that are in the black belt. I was insulted by that,” he said. “All of this was a slap in the face of African-Americans. It had nothing to do with Governor Sanford.”
A spokesman for Sanford, Joel Sawyer, accused Clyburn of playing the race card.
“Representative Clyburn is no stranger to playing the race card, because he has no defense for the runaway spending and the deficits contained in this so-called stimulus bill that will hurt our economy,” he said. “Spending money at the federal level that we do not have represents a future tax increase on all South Carolinians, regardless of their color - and in the process of doing so, he's ripping off everyone he claims to represent.”
Sanford indicated Thursday he was leaning towards taking the federal money despite his opposition to the bill.
(CNN)– He gave a well received speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, but Rep. James Clyburn told CNN he had difficulty talking about the historic meaning behind the official
nomination of Sen. Barack Obama.
"It's a very emotional thing for me," Clyburn told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "It's hard to explain what it really means. It means though that this party has taken a step that will help this nation get behind it, one of those things that have impeded our progress for a long
Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and the most powerful African-American in Congress said Obama's nomination has brought back memories of his parents and his childhood, growing up during the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 60's.
"I really flashback to sitting in a jail cell," The South Carolina native admitted, adding he wasn't sure the struggles he endured then to bring about equality for African-Americans would ever have a "beneficial impact."
"It came to me this afternoon that we did in fact succeed it in starting a journey that still is not completed...[but] tomorrow night will get us much closer to a more perfect union,” he also said.
Clyburn remained neutral during the Democratic primary and officially endorsed the Illinois senator on June 3.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Thursday he expects some Democratic legislators to hold back from endorsing Barack Obama because it could prove politically unwise in their congressional districts.
On CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," Clyburn was asked if some Democrats might follow the path of Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren, who said last week he would not endorse Obama because the presumptive Democratic nominee holds liberal positions that are out of step with his constituents. (Yesterday, Boren clarified that he will indeed vote for Obama.)
Clyburn said “most Democrats in the United States Congress are going to be very supportive of this campaign” but predicted that others may be more hesitant.
WATCH Clyburn's interview from The Situation Room
"A lot of them are going to look at their congressional districts and see how the congressional district voted,” Clyburn said. "And they'll be holding back, waiting to get some signal from their constituents as to how they ought to conduct themselves."
It's justified for some conservative Democrats to withhold their support, Clyburn explained.
"That's how it should be, Wolf," he said. "It’s one thing for us to have a big tent party. But it's also another thing for these candidates to stay in close touch with their constituents. And I understand that."
(CNN) – The most powerful African-American in Congress again scolded former President Bill Clinton for comments he made over the course of the Democratic presidential race.
In an interview with the New York Times late Thursday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn called the former president's conduct "bizarre," and said several of Clinton's actions had deeply upset many African-Americans.
Clyburn told the newspaper that many African-Americans believed the Clintons were trying to damage Obama to the point where he could not be elected. He also made similar comments in an interview with Reuters Thursday.
"There are African Americans who have reached the decision that the Clintons know that she can’t win this," he told Reuters. "But they’re hell-bound to make it impossible for Obama to win.”
Speaking with the New York Times, Clyburn said such actions could lead to a longtime division between the former president and his once most reliable constituency.
“When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” Clyburn said. “I think black folks feel strongly that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation.”
Speaking to reporters Friday, Obama said he does not believe in "irreparable breaches. "
"I am a big believer in reconciliation and redemption," he said. "This has been a fierce contest. I am confident, come August there are going to be a whole bunch of people standing on the stage with a lot of balloons and confetti raining down on the Democratic nominee and people are going to be excited about taking on John McCain in November."