August 15th, 2012
04:59 PM ET
11 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. Thelman

    I voted for the president in spite of biden but if i were the president i would seriously consider changing vp's. This will be a very close election and while ryan's views may be extreme, he is a smart guy that even his "enemies" admit comes off as very likable. Hillary would make an excellent running mate.. . Biden has been saying dumb things as long as he has been in politics, which is along time. That was out and out pandering by evoking a crude racial

    August 15, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  2. Toughlove

    The really sad thing is the Left Race-Baiting strategy is no longer shocking...although this came pretty close.

    August 15, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  3. Really?

    Kim – get an education. What Paul Ryan's embrace of Rand SHOULD tell you is he loves freedom. Rand understood the horrors of Collectivism which the current White House occupier promotes. One does not have to be religious to understand the value of freedom. Nor do you have to believe the lies that the campaigner in chief is pushing. Open your eyes to the truth: the liberal, collectivists are destroying families AND the country.

    August 15, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  4. Kris in AL

    I knew there was a reason I liked Artur. He seemed/seems like a straight shooter.

    There is no doubt Biden launched into some Southern drawl slang when he delivered that line....using YA'ALL.

    The crowd was clearly dominated by Blacks.

    The "chains"reference was clear to all to see........PLAYING THE RACE CARD !!!

    August 15, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  5. Sailbug

    It is a true statement about racism is worse since Predident Obama's election. But what is also true is that God is letting the people know that you have this ugliness in your heart and I want you to deal with it. It amazes me how all these people claim to be Christians and love God but can't love your neighbor which is one of the major requirements from God. It is not Obama's fault if people want to have racism in their heart. That is a choice that each one of us will make. If you would allow yourself to sit down and do some rational thinking, you will come to the conclusion that this President and this office have been more disrespected than any other and then ask yourself why? Be truthful and honest with yourself. Just for a minute forget politics and think about it. The reason why jobs are not flourishing is because it would go against GOP plans. You who don't have a job need to be angry with republicans because they voted against you and your jobs. Go and research on how they all voted.

    August 15, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  6. Gee

    Biden is known for stepping on his tongue... his mind and mouth don't work together .... that comment seemed very racial and lucky this VP didn't get a shoe thrown at him..... Biden once again didn't help his Pres..... keep him in DC...

    August 15, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  7. Manchurian Like a MoFo

    Wow. This is kinda blowing my mind. This guy is a sleeper cell for the Repubs, no doubt about it. I can see him being programmed under the flare of a floodlight with Frank Luntz, Karl Rove and F. Lee Ermey alternately crashing into frame peppering him with encoded instructions. I'm not kidding. These guys are committed.

    August 15, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  8. John P.

    I love Biden for his convictions. He calls it like he sees it. His words probably weren't the best choice but for the Romney campaign to call Obama's full of hate is ridiculous just like anything that comes out Mitt's month. A man who rarely answers anything directly and does not play by the same rules. We are forgetting Biden is smart, knowlegable, and understands the issues in this election because Wall Street truly has tried to control us. Wouldn't it be so nice if regular folks could have their tax rates?

    August 15, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  9. organicman

    Every Republican is praying that Obama keeps Biden on the ticket. Biden has played the race card and it backfired. He needs to man-up and say he was wrong.

    August 16, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  10. BKRush

    As an African American I did not find anything wrong with what Joe Biden said. The Republican's are just pissed they didn't think of it first. As for Artur Davis, he has lived high on the hog so long he has forgotten what it is like to be a black American. You need only look to his switch to the Republican party to realize that. The same Republican party that used every dirty trick in the book to try to keep Obama out of the White House in 2008. Mr. Davis, I don't hate you for switching teams. I pity you for succumbing blindly to the Republican rhetoric. The NAACP should pull your card. That is provided you have one.

    August 16, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  11. Sailbug

    The republicans became the party of NO on everything because that was the plan. President Obama has done a lot considering the opposition he has received. Obama said that change would not be easy and it is not, even in our every day lives. He knew when he went against Wall Street to close loopholes to help us, he knew it would be hard and not be a popular thing. He needed a House and a Senate that could and would get things done. Did he get that? No, people didn't vote so now he has to do what he can. Has he done everything I wanted and like? No, but I can get in there and find a common ground to start the process. When people,don't get what they want, they abandon the ship, not realizing it is not better on the other side. I was not offended about what Biden said because I knew what he was referring to and it was not about race. The one who accuses Obama of being a divider and being racial, could it be them that are a divider and racial?

    August 16, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  12. MP in VA

    What Biden said was reprehensible, but make no mistake, his comments are not a game-changer in this election, because those who give his comment pause would realize they do not reflect the views of his Party or his President. And, the fake outrage? Yawn.

    August 16, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  13. brian

    I hope wilden actually reads these comments to realize how much a tool he has shown himself to be. People are tired of politicians staging dramatic outrage over's like watching eight year olds arguing over a kickball....just shut up and keep things moving. Shocker, no one really cares what you think. Your career in politics is done....see you as a lobbyist because you arent capable of real work...and stop doing what you are accusing others of...race baiting. Jerk.

    August 16, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  14. Sailbug

    I want to encourage all who started out with Obama, vote and stay with Obama this election. He needs help with the House and Senate. Change is never easy and it takes time. People don't like change because it requires something from them. If you think the republicans love you and wants to help you, I then suggest you take a walk back down memory lane.

    August 16, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  15. SoCal

    Should really be ashamed.

    DEMs' Party always acts hypocritically!

    The fragile and inefficient Administration should stop playing politics, stop talking the talk, stop hurting American Families!!!

    August 16, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  16. Terry Smith

    Quick Fact.....Who freed the slaves? Wasn't it Republican Abraham Lincoln? You libs are a hoot to watch!

    August 16, 2012 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  17. Bob

    Democrats are FAR more racist than Republicans and always have been.

    August 16, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  18. candy

    Biden didn't embarrass Obama. Davis did and he's nothing but an Uncle Tom. Mr. Davis, get this into your brain: Nothing that attacks the Wall Street blood suckers can ever be close to embarrassing.

    August 16, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  19. steve

    Say boy. Yall dun got yerselves all chained up with biden haintcha boy?

    August 16, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  20. drcole

    Imagine what would happen if a Republican made the same comments that Biden made...what a hypocritical administration we have with Obama. America needs to wake up and see that he has divided this country farther and farther. The only campaign promise that he kept He has made everything worse. The economy...worse, unemployment...worse, Gitmo...still open, Government transparency...well, that was a joke after Peloesi (when refering to Obamacare) says...we have to pass this bill in order to know what's in the bill.

    Obama has done nothing but continue to divide us as Americans. It's time to tell him to stop. We shouldn't hate our neighbor or someone that we don't agree 100% with, but Obama has found a way to do that.

    Vote him out now!!!

    August 16, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  21. cgs

    Biden has gone senile. So scarey if he should ever become president.

    August 16, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. candy

    "Anyone who actually thought that the election of a black man as POTUS would have any other immediate effect than to cause white conservatives to go completely and utterly apesh-t over "their country" being "taken away" (otherwise, why and from whom did they need to "take it back"?) hasn't been paying any effing attention for over half a century."

    - So true. The only problem is: Little do these folks know that they can't ever take back "their country" anymore, because it's not there for them to take back. Social and technological changes as well as demographics of the population no longer make the country "theirs". But they'll try anyway, regardless.

    August 16, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  23. Just a Thought

    Uh...I believe the good african american / black folks have a name fo the likes of Davis. It starts with something like Aunt or Uncle and ends with Tony or Thomas.

    Say, where were you when they were calling the President everything in the book except a good public servant? This President has endured the worse name calling in the history of the office. And now you decide to stand up against the faux outrage of the most dishonest campaign since Richard Millhouse Nixon(?) You make me sick sir. Please go back under the rock where you were hiding. Did you bother to ask Robme what he meant by saying to his good ole boys, "if they (dem black people) want free stuff they should vote for the other guy"....just after insulting them at the NAACP speech. You know what though...I'm sure the you fit right in the religious right...good christian folks and all

    August 16, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  24. steve g

    You guys all need many lessons on history and economics. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and Democrats viciously supported segregation for 100 years. Republicans in congress overwelmingly supported a civil rights act since 1920 but never contolled congress. When it was finally passed in 1964 it was supported by 80% of GOP and only 55% of Democrats. Al Gores father not only opposed it but fillibustered against it for 3 days. Yet for some unknown reason 90% of African Americans consistently support Democrats and their wellfare socialist policies. What do they get for it? Broken Families, High Unemployment, High dependency on wellfare, Crime ridden ghettos, and a huge percent of their population without fathers and in prison. Republicans believe in principals and support policies that lift people out of poverty and create wealth for all. But blacks only want to support politicians who's daddy's were in the clan.

    August 16, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  25. James

    Biden is perfect for us in America. He is a clumsy, slightly stupid, galoot.... pretty much epitomizes America...

    August 16, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
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