Jesse Jackson Apologizes for Crude Obama Remarks
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The Rev. Jesse Jackson apologized Wednesday for saying Barack Obama is “talking down to black people” during what Jackson thought was a private conversation before a FOX News interview Sunday.
Jackson was speaking to a guest at the time about Obama’s speeches in black churches and his support for faith-based charities. Jackson added before going live, “I want to cut his nuts off.”
His microphone picked up the remarks.
At a hastily arranged news conference Wednesday evening in Chicago, Jackson said he supports Obama “unequivocally” and that he hopes to “get this behind me.”
“I have great passion for this campaign and traveled across the country … arguing the case for the campaign,” Jackson said. “And this thing I said in a hot-mic statement that’s interpreted as a distraction, I offer apology for that. I don’t want harm or hurt to come to this campaign.”
He said, “They were hurtful and wrong … but we have a relationship that can survive this.”
Jackson said in a written statement he was trying to emphasize that Obama’s moral message should “not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males, but to deal with the collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy.”
Jackson said the conversation “does not reflect any disparagement on my part for the historic event in which we are involved or my pride in Senator Barack Obama, who is leading it, whom I have supported by crisscrossing this nation in every level of media and audience from the beginning in absolute terms.”
Jackson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he doesn’t remember exactly what he said Sunday but that he was “very sorry” for his comments about Obama. He called his comments “a side light in a broader conversation about urban disparities.”
Jackson said he has called Obama’s campaign to apologize.
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton noted that the Illinois senator grew up without his father and has spoken and written at length about the issues of parental responsibility and fathers participating in their children’s lives, and of society’s obligation to provide “jobs, justice and opportunity for all.
“He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson’s apology,” Burton said.
Jackson’s comments sparked something of a family feud. His son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., said he was disappointed by his father’s “reckless statements.”
“His divisive and demeaning comments about the presumptive Democratic nominee — and I believe the next president of the United States — contradict his inspiring and courageous career,” the younger Jackson said.
The comments are not the first the elder Jackson has had to explain after believing he was off the record.
In 1984, he called New York City “Hymietown,” referring to the city’s large Jewish population. He later acknowledged it was wrong to use the term, but said he did so in private to a reporter.