Newt Gingrich’s use of code words to attract supporters, Mitt Romney’s finances and questions about his religious affiliation.
This week’s roundtable features Sophia Nelson, Cynthia Gordy, Joe Madison, and George Curry.
MR. MARTIN: Right now, I want to play the clip from the Fox News debate with GOP candidates where Newt and Juan Williams had a little tête-à-tête over the issue of code words. Check this out.
MR. JUAN WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said Black Americans should demand jobs – not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools.
Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to Black Americans?
MR. GINGRICH: No. I don’t see that.
MR. GINGRICH: New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work. They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor. Only the elites despise earning money.
[AUDIENCE APPLAUSE, WHISTLING]
[END OF VIDEO.]
MR. MARTIN: It is hilarious as you watch Newt try to spin that whole deal, when the fact of the matter is he was using coded language. He was speaking directly to White voters, basically saying, “I’m going to tell these no-working, poor Black folks to get off they behind[s] and get to work.”
MR. CURRY: And that comes on the trail of him saying that, basically, the only work that young people know about is illegal, when all of us have worked since we’ve been kids, too.
Look, this whole thing – this – you see a pattern here. Newt tried to redefine the question, redefine the issue and not talk about the issue. That’s why – for example, he talked about his ex-wife. Well, that news. She hadn’t talked all these years. So, you don’t blame the news media because she decided to talk at this point. He’s just trying to get off-course. Of course he used –
MR. MARTIN: But I –
MR. CURRY: — code words, but they –
MR. MARTIN: — love how folks –
MR. CURRY: — all do it.
MR. MARTIN: — start –
MS. NELSON: Roland –
MR. MARTIN: — trying to explain away –
MS. NELSON: — but –
MR. MARTIN: — “No, this is what he really meant.”
No. We heard what he –
MS. NELSON: — [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: — said!
MS. NELSON: — Roland, first of all, it wasn’t code language. He’s a modern-day Bull Connor, just dressed up in a suit, and his hose is his mouth. I mean I’m just – sorry. And Newt says the most outrageous things because the raw meat that this Republican Party needs – South Carolina last night, at the debate before that – they – they want him to put folks in their place, particularly Black folks. And I say this as someone who was a Republican for 20 years and just got tired of it. Moderates don’t exist like me anymore.
And the point is – is that Newt is playing to an audience that wants Barack Obama checked. They want him checked.
MS. GORDY: Yeah, and I think – I agree with Sophia. There’s – there’s no – no way that this is coded language. He was very specific about talking about Black people demanding jobs, not food stamps; and even in his past defense of the children working as janitors working at their schools idea, he used African-American youth as a parti- — as a specific example. So, I think it’s a very clear employment of the southern strategy, where you’re –
MR. MADISON: We- — well –
MR. MARTIN: A- — and –
MR. MADISON: — fir- — well, first of all, let me – let me point out something. One, do you know how much it costs to live in New York City? Most of us do, and I can guarantee you on a janitor’s salary in New York City, you’re not living extraordinarily high on the hog. So, you know, that was a – a –
MR. MARTIN: — yeah –
MR. MADISON: — deflection.
MR. MARTIN: — y- — yeah, you don’t – you don’t have a $500,000 credit line at –
MR. MADISON: — [crosstalk] – and so –
MR. MARTIN: — Tiffany’s.
MR. MADISON: — so you – so, you talk about giving a daddy or a momma – put – make them unemployed and hire the children to work in whatever the capacity is. So, we know how ridiculous it is.
Finally, this is not new, y’all. George –
MR. MARTIN: [Of] course –
MR. MADISON: — and I –
MR. MARTIN: — not.
MR. MADISON: — are old enough and – and experienced enough – you’re babies here –
MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.]
MR. MADISON: — to remember during the Reagan Administration, the – the woman in the Lincoln with the fur coat –
MR. MARTIN: Yeah.
MR. MADISON: — who was on welfare and bought potato chips and cognac with food stamps. Now, when I say that –
MR. MARTIN: She was the ima- —
MR. MADISON: — that –
MR. MARTIN: — image of the “welfare” –
MR. MADISON: — when I –
MR. MARTIN: — “queen” – yep.
MR. MADISON: — say that, I can guarantee you a White, blonde woman is not the image that most of America –
MR. MARTIN: That’s right.
MR. MADISON: — has.
MR. MARTIN: That’s right.
MR. CURRY: And – [unintelligible] – for the record – for the Reagan thing, for the record, he – the person [was] supposed to [have] had 84 aliases and – and took government money under all of ’em, and they found out they never existed.
MR. MARTIN: And that – and here’s what’s interesting.
OFF CAMERA: Wow.
MR. MARTIN: Because then you have the – the constant referral t- — of Pres. Obama as “The Welfare President,” or –
MS. NELSON: “Food Stamp” –
MR. MARTIN: — “The Food Stamp” –
OFF CAMERA: “Food Stamp President.”
MR. MARTIN: — “President,” when, if you look at the data – again, facts really be damned –
MR. MADISON: Seventy percent.
OFF CAMERA: Right!
MR. MARTIN: — the bottom line is the number of Whites on food stamps; but also, how many folks got on under Pres. Bush, as opposed to Pres. Obama?
MR. CURRY: And more important, with – with a – with a[n] economy like this, people needing help, they should be on food stamps and any other kind of help they can get.
MS. NELSON: Yeah, I mean that’s the point. And then the Republicans talk about the cutting – you know, it’s the – now, the deficit issue and they cutting. They want to throw people off of social programs. So, what? People are barely – 40 million Americans are on food stamps in this country. What? Are we going to –
MR. MARTIN: Americans.
MS. NELSON: — throw them off so –
MR. MARTIN: Not Black folks.
MS. NELSON: — yeah, just –
MR. MARTIN: Americans.
MS. NELSON: — right. And it’s disproportionately Black. We won’t argue that point. But the point is – is that – what are we going to do? Throw people off the food stamps so that they’re hungry, and they just die in the streets? I –
MR. MARTIN: Now –
MS. NELSON: — mean –
MR. MARTIN: — now –
MS. NELSON: — what are –
MR. MARTIN: — and here’s what’s –
MS. NELSON: — we doing?
MR. MARTIN: — interesting to me, because when, all of a sudden, Newt begins to make these coded – these very direct comments that get White audiences excited, all of a sudden, Mitt Romney is now in a position where [he is] not necessarily the ine- — the inevitable candidate, and he now has to deal with that. And so he also now has to deal with the whole issue of his wealth. I want to play this clip, and then I want to come back to you and say, “Can Mitt Romney really appeal to those blue-collar workers and somehow convince him that he’s a better person to run the economy than Pres. Obama?” Here’s what he had to say.
MR. MITT ROMNEY: — closer to the 15 percent rate. My income comes overwhelmingly from – from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income. I – I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away, and – and then I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.
[END OF VIDEO.]
MR. MADISON: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: Okay. $374,000 in speaking fees.
MR. MADISON: That’s what George gets. He –
MR. CURRY: [Chuckles.]
MR. MADISON: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: Now, last I –
MR. CURRY: I wish!
MR. MARTIN: — checked, if you are an average American where the salary’s about 50 grand, you would lo-o-ove “not very much” in speaking fees.
Can this man really go out to I- — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, to go to Florida – go to these places where people have been laid off – White folks, Black folks, Hispanic – you name it – and try to say, “Oh, yeah. I’mma look out for you”?
MR. CURRY: Well, the $50,000 is for a family, so he’s not even – [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. CURRY: — individual.
Now. The thing about it is – look, this is the deal. The deal is they hate Romney, but they hate Obama more. So, it’s not going to be about, as you said, the facts. They – [unintelligible] –
MR. MADISON: I –
MR. CURRY: — first concern about that.
MR. MADISON: — I want to add something else that i- — is the elephant in the room.
MS. NELSON: Oh-oh.
MR. MADISON: And that is his religion.
MS. NELSON: Yep.
MR. MADISON: And I’m going to tell you why –
MS. NELSON: That’s right.
MR. MADISON: — I’m adding this. No commentator – maybe with a couple [of] exceptions – has asked him, “Has Mormonism put racism behind?” and asked him directly about the history – the way they took O- — Pres. Obama on about Rev. Jeremiah Wright. If it is fair –
MS. NELSON: There it is.
MR. MADISON: — to go after Jeremiah Wright, who’s a Christian, and not address the history of Mormonism and race in this country, then they are playing a hypocritical game, too. So, it’s not just his finances. I think that commentators and reporters [had] better do to him, Romney, and his religion – let’s put the debate on the table; because, quite candidly, the reason they don’t like Romney in – in the Bible Belt is because they believe Mormonism is a cult.
MS. NELSON: They do.
MS. GORDY: Well, I think – I think Mitt Romney clearly has an image problem on multiple levels, but I don’t think it’s – it’s just on the basis of him being a wealthy businessman, as he’s – he’s trying to say that people are envious of him, or – or angry that he’s –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MS. GORDY: — wealthy, but I think it’s just that he so narrowly defines himself as a businessperson, that there’s nothing else for people to connect to; and he doesn’t know how to speak about himself in a way that goes beyond that.
MR. MARTIN: No, speaking of – look, we always need a good laugh. Mitt Romney ve- — rarely laughs. He’s more like – he’s wooden. He reminds me so much of Al Gore in 199- — in 2000 and, of course, John Kerry in ’04, but I — I have to show this little exchange on Fox News when – some people really should not talk about rap music if you have no idea who the hell you[’re] talkin’ about.
Roll the tape.
MR. BERNIE GOLDBERG: The first thing I say is that here is a picture, Bill, of Ice T, one of the iconic figures in Black culture and music, spending –
MR. BILL O’REILLY: That’s Ice –
MR. GOLDBERG: — a weekday with –
MR. O’REILLY: — Cube! That’s not Ice –
MR. GOLDBERG: — Ice –
MR. O’REILLY: — T. It’s –
MR. GOLDBERG: — [crosstalk] –
MR. O’REILLY: — Ice Cube.
MR. GOLDBERG: — no, no, no, no. That’s Ice T. You –
MR. O’REILLY: No, it’s –
MR. GOLDBERG: — see. You don’t even know –
MR. O’REILLY: — Ice Cube, Bernie. That’s how White you are. You don’t know Ice T from Ice Cube. That’s Ice –
MR. GOLDBERG: Oh –
MR. O’REILLY: — Cube.
MR. GOLDBERG: Ice Cube. Ice Cube. Ice –
MR. O’REILLY: Yeah.
MR. GOLDBERG: — Cube. You’re right. That’s –
MR. O’REILLY: See, I –
MR. GOLDBERG: — right. I’m –
MR. O’REILLY: — I’m a –
MR. GOLDBERG: — sorry.
MR. O’REILLY: — brother –
MR. GOLDBERG: I meant –
MR. O’REILLY: — man.
MR. GOLDBERG: — to – I m- —
MR. O’REILLY: You can’t be doin’ that –
MR. GOLDBERG: — I meant –
MR. O’REILLY: — to me. I know The Cube –
MR. GOLDBERG: I meant to –
MR. O’REILLY: — from –
MR. GOLDBERG: — say that.
MR. O’REILLY: — The T.
[END OF VIDEO.]
MR. MARTIN: So, Bill goes to Sylvia’s once a – once a year with Rev. Sharpton. Now, he’s a brutha.
MR. MADISON: Well, you know, a cube goes –
MS. NELSON: Well, he’s –
MR. MADISON: — into tea.
MS. NELSON: — [crosstalk] – Cube versus T.
MR. MADISON: That’s all you have to think about. I mean just common sense that a cube goes in – I- — you know, ice cube goes into iced tea.
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. MADISON: He could have handled that one.
MR. MARTIN: That’s what he –
MR. CURRY: And he – yes –
MR. MARTIN: — say[?].
MR. CURRY: — he’s a brutha. From another planet.
MR. MARTIN: There ya go.
MR. MARTIN: — both of y’all shut the hell up.
MR. MADISON: Yeah, really. That’s –
MS. NELSON: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: All right then.
MR. MADISON: — the bottom line.
MR. MARTIN: All right.
MR. MADISON: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: Befo- — -fore I let my panel go, we[’ve] got to give a shout-out, folks. George Curry’s a part of a media group. They have acquired “Heart and Soul” magazine.
George, first of all, the name of the group?
MR. CURRY: B- — actually, it’s Brown Curry Detry Taylor & Associates.
MR. MARTIN: Okay. And, of course, they have acquired the assets of “Heart and Soul.” You guys are going to publish how many issues a year?
MR. CURRY: We’ll still do six, but we[’re] go- — are going to, actually, beef up the digital portion of it.
MR. MARTIN: All right, then. Well, congratulations on being –
MR. CURRY: Thank you.
MR. MARTIN: — a[n] owner, George. And so we’ll look forward to “Heart and Soul.”
MR. CURRY: All right. Thank you.