by Stephen Clark
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings on Wednesday warned two minority groups to beware of Sarah Palin because “anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.”
Hastings, who is black and a Democrat, made the comment in Florida at a panel discussion hosted by the National Jewish Democratic Council. The group recently criticized Palin’s invitation to an anti-Iran rally held during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad’s visit to New York to speak before the U.N. General Assembly.
Hastings was explaining what he intended to tell his Jewish constituents about the presidential race.
“If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention,” Hastings told the audience, which burst into laughter and applause, according to individuals present.
Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to comment. The Republican Jewish Coalition strongly condemned Hastings’ statements.
“Rep. Hastings stooped to the worst kind of divisive politics yesterday,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a written statement. “Hastings’ unconscionable remarks do nothing but sow seeds of fear and divide people. There should be no place in our country for this sort of political discourse. We can constructively disagree on the issues without denigrating others.”
Other members of the panel were Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, who is Jewish and represents a mostly black district; Alabama congressman Artur Davis, who is black; and Peter Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University who was a legislative assistant to Robert Kennedy.
Davis denounced Hastings’ comments.
“Alcee Hastings is a friend and I know Alcee well enough to know that he uses provocative humor to make a point. In this instance, however, I didn’t like his comments when I heard them and they don’t sound any better reading them in print,” he said in a written statement sent to FOXNews.com.
“I have repeatedly said that while Sarah Palin’s ideology and her thin resume are legitimate issues, it is a great mistake for Democrats to ridicule her cultural roots,” Davis added. “I don’t know how many Americans strip moose, but a lot of the ones I know tote guns and the Democratic Party had better win enough of those gun toters if we are to be successful.”
Hastings, a former federal judge, was impeached and removed from the bench in 1989 for perjury and corruption. Elected to Congress in 1992, he supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries until she conceded the race.
Historically, Jews have overwhelmingly voted Democratic, but the McCain campaign is vigorously courting that constituency as Obama has fought off false Internet rumors that he is a Muslim with an anti-Jewish agenda.
Obama also came under fire in April for describing small-town Americans during a closed San Francisco fundraiser as people who are “bitter” over job losses and who “cling to their guns and religion.”
Hastings’ office and the Obama campaign did not immediately respond for this story.