Rep. Walsh Defends His Comments About Minorities, Government Aid
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Updated 6/1/2012 at 5:00 p.m.
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is taking heat for some comments he made at a recent town hall meeting in Schaumburg, but the incumbent is not apologizing.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports, the CREDO SuperPAC, a political action committee with a stated mission of taking down “extremist” Tea Party members of Congress, posted the video of Walsh making the comments at the town hall in Schaumburg this past Saturday.
In the video, Walsh raises his voice and says he gets “wound up” as he accuses Democrats of keeping certain groups of people dependent on government in order to keep their vote.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports
“We have so many people now dependent on government; so many people who want handouts,” Walsh said at the town hall. “The Democratic Party promises groups of people everything. They want the Hispanic vote, they want Hispanics to be dependent upon government, just like they got African-Americans dependent upon government. That’s their game. Jesse Jackson would be out of work if they weren’t dependent upon government. There’d be no work for him.”
Walsh says his comments were never meant to be racist.
“Oh gosh no!” he told CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot. “I meant to be disparaging toward these Democratic Party policies that have done this to Americans that have made so many Americans dependent upon government.”
People in Walsh’s district had mixed reactions.
“For him to say something like that is very, very offensive. Not just for the Latinos, for any nationality,” said Joanne Sanabria who has lived in Elk Grove Village and now works there.
Bill Silvester supports Walsh’s comments.
“I just think he’s telling what’s going on. I don’t think it’s racist whatsoever. I don’t think there’s any racist attitude whatsoever,” he said.
The SuperPAC calls the remarks Walsh’s “macaca moment,” a reference to the failed 2006 U.S. Senate reelection campaign of Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in which he called an Indian-American aide to his Democratic opponent “macaca.” The word is considered an ethnic slur for African immigrants in some European cultures.
The CREDO SuperPAC also identifies Walsh as one of the “Tea Party Ten” who are “unfit to serve.” The Web site for the SuperPAC notes that Walsh once called himself a “crazy Tea Party freshman,” and accuses him of having attacked African-Americans, Jews and Muslims, screaming at his own constituents, and refusing federal health insurance despite his wife’s pre-existing condition.
Walsh’s Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, suggested in a statement that Walsh’s comments were the latest in a growing list of racially insensitive statements.
“Congressman Walsh’s remarks are not only offensive, they are especially irresponsible coming from a sitting member of Congress,” she said.
Jackson called the remark about how he would be “out of work” if African-Americans weren’t so dependent on government an attempt to “incite and polarize.”
Speaking to the Associated Press, Jackson said his life’s work has been to “gain for all vulnerable Americans equal protection under the law.”
Further, he said, Walsh ignores the fact that the majority of people receiving government aid are not black and that the congressman is demonstrating a bias against the poor in favor of the wealthy.
“For the rich, it’s called a subsidy. For the poor, it is welfare,” Jackson said.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)