New York State Senator Bill Perkins, one of Barack Obama’s most prominent supporters in New York, says that the Clinton campaign is to blame for injecting the issue of race into the contest for the Democratic nomination.
When asked about the recent remark from Clinton supporter and Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson that Hillary was working hard for black Americans while "Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood" Perkins responded "It’s outrageous."
"People keep making these insinuations and then keep dismissing them as mistakes or misunderstandings," Perkins said. "The reality is everyone gets it. So we have a string of apologies that are starting to sound hypocritical and hollow. Obviously the intention is to fight below the belt. And I think the backlash will be obviously for people to recognize what is going on."
Perkins thinks it’s concerted, and suggested that Bill Clinton was complicit in pushing that message.
"I think that a message has gone out that obviously allows for people to be so careless," he added. "We are very good in this business at people knowing the message, especially those who speak on our behalf. Occasionally we go off message. President Bill Clinton has so often done that with such a consistently alternative message that one wonders if he really is off message."
In light of Hillary’s assertion on Meet the Press that she would get rid of surrogates and associates making remarks she deems improper about Obama, I asked Perkins if Johnson should be asked to sever his ties to the Clinton campaign.
"Of course," said Perkins. But he said he doubted that Hillary really intended to punish her supporters for such remarks. "Can you believe what she says? You say it is unacceptable. You say it is not going to be tolerated. You say people are going to be dismissed. You say that you are going to put a stop to it. If you had a plumber that had such a poor record you’d be drowning."
He also predicted post-election consequences of the racially tinged back-and-forth: "This is a very dangerous thing from the perspective of the body politic because it is along racial lines. This is essentially provoking racial outrage. And we have to live after this, as a country. So how do we govern afterwards with this kind of divisiveness? You can win the race and take us backwards."