WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. John McCain called a statement by a Georgia congressman Saturday, which compared the feeling at recent Republican rallies to those of segregationist George Wallace, “a brazen and baseless attack.”
Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who has been praised by McCain in the past, issued his statement after several days of headline-grabbing anger aimed at Democratic nominee Barack Obama from some attendees at campaign rallies of McCain and running mate Gov. Sarah Palin.
“What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse,” Lewis said in a statement.
“George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama,” wrote the Democrat.
Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, and Sen. John McCain
traded tough statements Saturday.
McCain has written about Lewis, praising his actions in Selma, Alabama, during the civil rights movement. The Republican nominee even said during a summer faith forum that Lewis was one of three men he would turn to for counsel as president.
But the Arizona senator blasted Lewis‘ remarks, and called on Obama to repudiate them.
“Congressman John Lewis’ comments represent a character attack against Gov. Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale,” he said in a Saturday afternoon statement released by his campaign.
“The notion that legitimate criticism of Sen. Obama’s record and positions could be compared to Gov. George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I’ve always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.
Race and Racism Enter the Election Debate
by Stephen Collinson
CHICAGO (AFP) – A war of words with racial undertones marked the White House race Sunday after
McCain, who has been trying to tamp down abuse of the Democratic nominee at his campaign events, reacted furiously, lashing out against Lewis, who only a few weeks ago he described as one of the Americans he most admired.
The latest political turbulence came just over three weeks before the November 4 election, with Obama building a steady lead over McCain on the national level, and on the state-by-state electoral map.