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. Randy

    I love that Davis must be a traitor because he now questions Obama's leadership. Maybe he just realized the guy was not qualified! As for Biden, I think he would say anything to get the conversation off the issues and back on sideshow topics like tax forms and what horse Ann Romney owns.

    August 15, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  2. Fernando Medina

    The man is speaking the truth and for all those that can't accept the truth, then vote for Obama, period. LIve in fantasy land, and here what your want to hear and live in Obama's father dream.

    August 15, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. ccb

    If Romney gets in along with other Tea Party Repulicans, blacks and other ethnic groups will have a lot to be fearful of; we'll have to return to the civil rights era of civil disobedience and massive demonstrations as they will try to turn the clock back to the Jim Crow era! I really believe this!

    August 15, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. LinSea

    Your facts are completely wrong, Camty. There have been black members of the Mormon church since it was founded.

    August 15, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. RandyKC

    At first I was interested in what was mentioned in the headline, then I realized it was just Artur.
    Swinging for the headline and kissing up to his new bosses.
    How's riding on top of the republican bus with the other lapdogs feel Artur?

    August 15, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Airprof48

    The Democratic Party is an insult to African-Americans and has been since before the Civil War

    August 15, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  7. Cam Spurgeon

    Really dumb outrage. I have never seen such whiners as Romney and team and Wolf is totally gone to seed and needs to be retired. He is nothing but a pompous,desperate for rating and is losing the battle for respect.

    August 15, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. SafeJourney

    Wonder how many million the GOP paid this guy. Its really a sad day when you have to sell your soul to the GOP

    August 15, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  9. Suzette

    The one who should be ashamed is Artur Davis. I will admit that the tone Biden used when he made the statement causes me pause, and do believe he meant no harm. I do think that it is possible that he may have been trying to speak in a way that he may believe would endear him to a prodominantly black crowd, and he should not have done that. Speak to the black community as if you would the white community. We will understand your point. However, the fact that Artur Davis would invoke the old days of the southern democrats, focusing in on the old history of the party, and deliberately ignoring the new Republican party and their current tone, smacks of such hypocrisay. He's venturing into Alan West and Herman Cain territory here.

    August 15, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    I am appalled that people support the racism of Obama and Biden. They will simply stoop to anything to be elected. So sad for our country and for the people who do not WANT to encourage racism. Black people feel guilty if they don't support Obama. i am beginning to see a very strong form of racist behvior toward white america and it is primarily on the left. Black people are smarter than the left gives thm credit.

    August 15, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. Steve

    This guy is missing more than the "h" in his first name. He's going after the VP for the "chains" remark as somehow being racist yet his "new" party is one fillled with racists. I guess he is willing to ignore his own party's racism in order to please his "massas". I'm glad he's no longer a Democrat(if he ever was one to begin with). Good riddance!

    August 15, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. voodkokk

    Biden is dumber than the day is long. Someone should make him a foot prop so he can just stick it in his mouth.

    August 15, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. carly

    Guess this clown must have been paid off by the right wing nuts or he is off his meds. After all the BS the right wing has put Obama thru this is pure theatrics and nothing else because Romney wants to divert from his Romney/Ryan Medicare problems.

    August 15, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  14. Cindy

    Don't be too hard on Arthur Davis. This is a man that has hit hard-times and had to accept the $ offer of the Republican campaign. This is what it is about when you call a news organization and say I have something to say.
    The Republicans have promised him a job if they win. Arthur, I really think you have shot yourself in the foot. Don't spend the money all in one place.

    August 15, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  15. joe smith

    Joe is from Scranton, Pa...enough said

    August 15, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  16. voodkokk

    No need for Biden to apologize we dismiss eveything he says anyway.

    August 15, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. Mia

    So let's get Colin Powell on CNN and tell the world that he agrees with Biden, eh?

    August 15, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. robj

    I think what Biden really meant was that he wanted to rechained the Obamas because they are the desendants of slaves.

    August 15, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  19. Vic

    As a minority in this country, I am OUTRAGED by the level that this current administration is willing to stoop. Honestly folks, anyone educated should be extremely upset that the current Democrat Party can simply get away with this elementary school style of insult; simply pandering to what they believe are completely uneducated sects of society. To think that we (African Americans)still vote along this hypocritical party line is digusting..Period. Those of us that still support this kind of rhetoric are guilty of a serious lack of self worth and evidently the desire to be taken seriously. Honestly my brothers and sisters, do you not see how this party takes our vote for granted? Do we want to continue to be considered helpless? If you buy into Obama/Biden you most certainly do. Well said Mr. Davis.

    August 15, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  20. mmanr1918

    some black people have to understand the word EVOLUTION the U.S. is not the same , people who don't developed to the progress they live with fear from the past, brothers don't let some brothers used use the color of yours skin for their purpose.

    August 15, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. DG

    Artur Davis is looking out just for himself because he knows he will have a hard time winning politically in Alabama unless he switched to the GOP. All he cares about is himself. Why doesn't he speak up against the Republicons voter supression schemes in Florida, Pennsylvania, etc. which will deny minorities their constitutiona right to vote iif he truly cares about our democracy?

    August 15, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  22. Bobby Burns

    We all know Stephine Cutter is a liar that was proven this week. Biden & Obama need to go.

    August 15, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. mikaman3000

    to pam.....just like there are BOTH blacks and whites on food if you want to allow your political masters a get out of jail card because there were both blacks and whites in the crowd, and still be taken seriously, then you have to also allow the GOP off the hook for the food stamp comment, because obviously there are people of all races on food stamps. By the way, in the history of this country, have you ever heard of any white men being bound in chains (besides prisoners of course).

    August 15, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  24. Dnick47

    Its not just African-Americans VP Biden was referring to but to all of us..... Romney/Ryan will force the American labor(and eventually Euopean labor as well) to compete on the world market for labor. This will drive the price of labor for the industrialized world to slave-wage deminsion under the justification that manufacturers can move production to ____________ at a bowl of rice a day price and ship here relatively cheaply. Servitude chronicled by Chas. Dickens and others will be back as robber baron get rich off the blood of the masses. Call it slavery or serfdom there isn't a lot of difference between the two.

    August 15, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  25. paul

    You do know you can refer to breaking the chains of govt,wall st ,society even alcoholism without it being a racial tone.People who bring that into it are trying their hardest but its a fail.We all must remember that the Tea Party did it all the time with their "Break the chains of big govt"..where were these out crys then?...Thats right, didnt hear any did we

    August 15, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
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