(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.
"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."