This will be the last word on the Rangel presser today, but the congressman was asked by Azi Paybarah of WNYC if he planned to debate his primary opponents. What followed was a long, Rangelian digression on his opponents.
I have yet to hear of one. And none of my opponents have said anything unkind about me. Now, that may change. There is a remote possibility that their candidacy may be closely related to their belief that there might not be a Charlie Rangel around, I have no idea. All I know is that Vince Morgan truly believes that the best of him is what he learned in my office and he told me last week that I am in his role model. I assumed he meant all the way but there’s a limit.
He went on to explain that Adam Clayton Powell IV, whose father Rangel beat in 1970 to win his seat, told Rangel that the congressman should annoint him as his sucessor.
Adam Powell made it abundantly clear that the fact that I beat his father in an election–which I’ve said I never did defeat Adam Powell he defeated himself; he was not here–but having said that, he said that was not part of his agenda. I have really done well by the community, and that he thought I should just step aside. I asked him, ‘Well how do you do that? Do you have papers with your name and my name?’ You know, what do you do? I guess he was confidant that if he was the only candidate then he would think because he has public office that he would do better than Joyce Johnson. Joyce Johnson and her mom, we’ve been long friends and hardly disagreed on anything, so I don’t see what a debate will do, even though I’m available, except to say that maybe them knowing that I’m very serious in saying that resignation is not an option, they have to take another look.
He did not mention Jonathan Tasini by name, who is also in the race.
Along with 20 or so supporters and district leaders who came out to support Rangel was Basil Smikle, who is challenging incumbent Bill Perkins for the state Senate seat in the heart of the district. Smikle made sure to get near Rangel when photographes were crowding around him at the end of the press conference. When the photos were done, I asked Smikle, who doubles as a political consultant, how he thought Rangel would make out September 14. His answer: “sixty-something percent.”