GOP candidates caught in slavery controversy
July 11th, 2011
09:38 AM ET
12 years ago

GOP candidates caught in slavery controversy

Washington (CNN) – Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum sought to clarify their support of a pledge that contained a controversial preamble suggesting black children born into slavery had better family structures than black children now.

The excerpt has been removed from "The Marriage Vow - A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family," a pledge issued by the conservative Christian organization The Family Leader.

The Family Leader is an important socially conservative group in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, holding sway over the state's traditionally more conservative caucus goers who influence the fate of presidential campaigns.

A spokesman for former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania told CNN Monday he was "pleased" to sign the pledge, but agreed with the Leader's decision to remove the language about slavery.

"Senator Santorum was pleased to sign the Iowa Family Leader's pledge because he is committed to standing up for traditional marriage. The bigger question here is why aren't more Republicans having the courage to stand up for the institution of marriage and signing this pledge," Virginia Davis said in an email. "With that said, Senator Santorum believed it was the right thing for the Iowa Family Leader to remove the language from the preamble to the pledge about slavery."

Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart, who confirmed the Minnesota congresswoman signed the pledge, said Sunday "In no uncertain terms, Congresswoman Bachmann believes that slavery was horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible."

The passage causing the stir read, "Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President."

The section's end note cited "The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans: A Comprehensive Literature Review" from 2005 - before Barack Obama was elected president.

The Family Leader said in a statement last week that the purpose of the pledge "is to have on record the personal convictions of each presidential candidate as it relates to the issue of marriage. The signing of the pledge will be a requirement for future endorsement" by the Iowa-based group.

The slavery excerpt was the first bullet point in the original pledge's preamble; "The Candidate Vow" begins the second page of the pledge. It is not clear whether Bachmann or Santorum read the preamble before signing the candidate vow.

The pledge requires signatories "to defend and to uphold" the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Each signing candidate must also promise personal fidelity to his or her spouse and recognize that "robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security."

Other provisions include supporting the enactment of safeguards for married and unmarried military personnel from sexual harassment and the "rejection of Sharia Islam."

Pledges have become an important feature in this election cycle, forcing candidates to take a hard line stance over social and fiscal issues. CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen said these agreements are constraining for candidates.

"Pledges are proliferating in political campaigns and people are being asked to sign up to things that, in this case, are way out of bounds," Gergen said on CNN Sunday. "In other cases they lock their hands so they can't act."

He pointed specifically to the no new tax pledge, pushed by conservative crusader Grover Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform. Two-hundred and thirty House members and 40 senators, almost all of them Republicans, signed the pledge. Gergen said that agreement is now constrictive in the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations.

"That means they have promised while in Washington they will never raise taxes," Gergen said. "That makes it very, very difficult to try to reach and foster some sort of compromise to get us out of the debt problem."

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Michele Bachmann • Rick Santorum
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. PhD candidate

    @Dean, how can you possibly say that that statement is true when it was standard practice during slavery to sell off the family unit. Mothers were sold fathers and children. The family was not kept together at all. Yes, the percentage of black marriage is low, bit it did not began when Obama got into office. This has been and issue for a very long time. The whole blame Obama game is old and tired.

    @skinman, please explain how electing a Republican candidate is what's best for America when it wad 3 sets of Republicans who got our national debt up so high in the first place. (Regan, Bush Sr. And Bush Jr.) Between those 3, $12 trillion was added to our national debt. The economy took a turn for the worse when George W. was in office. He is the one that got our nation into these wars in the first place. Also, if the Republicans had the American people's best interest at heart then they would be willing to compromise to get unemployment dropped, get the debt dropped, let the Bush tax cuts go , since it only adds to that debt and stop playing party politics. I could car less if a candidate is Republican or Democrat, as long as what needs to be done is done.

    July 11, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  2. It's hot in the Kitchen

    Can we stop this "sensitivity" crap. So the truth hurts, get over it. Be careful throwing those rocks, someone might throw a bigger one back at you, and not miss. Do everybody a favor, close the door behind you when you are finished with all your boo ooh they hurt my feelings.

    July 11, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  3. Bob in Pa.

    People take things too litterally and run with them just to destroy a persons reputation. In terms of a close family structure, they might be right. But is is not just black children, it is a huge portion of our inner city youth that are now lacking real parents. Divorce, crack, heroin, long term welfare and liberalism have destroyed inner city families and left children almost to fend for themselves.

    July 11, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. skinman

    More poisonous dribble from the leftist readers. When have democrats done anything for lower and middle class people? Never. By creating more laws and regulations? By growing government so we can offer people jobs that a chimpanzee could do? We are currently doing nothing to grow the economy and raising taxes will seal the deal if that is decided in the few weeks.

    Any republican in the whitehouse would do a better job than Obama; Herman Cain included. Yes, I would vote for Herman Cain in a second. I would vote for Condi Rice in a second. They both would have a plan to grow the economy–for all socioeconomic levels.

    Middle class and poor people do not supply the jobs. Small business owners and up do. Smaller government would allow all people a piece of the action if they choose to work hard and take chances. All the dems want to do now is offer up more narcotic like entitlements to keep those voters addicted and numb. They'll keep coming back wanting even more.

    July 11, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. Another Reformed Republican

    And these idiots are running for President? Unbelievable!

    July 11, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. kmp

    How about signing a pledge stating you will support and defend this nation instead of trying to tear it down. I am so sick and tired of hearing about these canidates signing yet another pledge that attempts to bring this country furture to the right, how about they stick to the pledge most Americans grew up saying "The Pledge of Alligance".

    July 11, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. Cardog

    It's no telling how many other Teapublican officials along with the seven dwarfs may have signed this pledge, but the two named does not surprise me at all. This has to be the most ignorant piece of made-up crap put out to date. For Santorum and Bachmann to be a part of it fits their make-up and where they come from. I find it amazing that Americans tolerate this blatant racial bigotry.

    July 11, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Sandy stated:

    "Darn! I was hoping that Bachman would knock Mitt out of the running. Oh, well, looks like she just killed her campaign with this racist and anti-American pledge."
    Sandy.....I disagree. The problem with your thinking is that Backman supporters will reject her based on the wording in this 'pledge'.

    The sad part is.....they won't!

    Why? Because truth is irrelevant.....and racism never manifested in their behavior.

    Instead, they'll say that Whites who cry "racism" are victims of "White Guilt".....and Blacks (and Hispanics) who cry "Racism" are only "pulling the 'race' card".

    July 11, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. JR White Bear Lake MN.

    Its nice how they make African Americans slaves sound like they came to this counrty to find a better life for their familys.... to live the American dream. They forgot to mention that they were chained up beatened and forced to come here. When they got here they were beatened,whiped, traded and sold. If they tried to escape they were killed. The GOP is killing this country. We got to stop them. You got to vote in 2012.

    July 11, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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