Congressman Charlie Rangel is not backing down from a racial remark made in a debate today at the expense of a top rival.
Mr. Rangel, while debating with State Senator Espaillat and Pastor Mike Walrond on ABC, asked of Mr. Espaillat: “What the heck has he done besides saying that he’s a Dominican?”
Mr. Espaillat, a Dominican-American trying once more to unseat Mr. Rangel in the upper Manhattan and Bronx-based seat, took offense but Mr. Rangel double-downed in an interview with reporters after the debate.
“What the hell can I say? He woke up in the morning and he saw that they said through the Census that there’s more Latins there than non-Latins. That is what I meant by it,” Mr. Rangel explained.
“And that he believes that he is Dominican and he should be the first Dominican to go to the Congress. And I am saying that should not be enough for anybody: black, white, Jew, gentile, Dominican, Puerto Rican. What is it about my answer that you do not understand?”
The district, once heavily African-American, is now majority Latino and Mr. Rangel has faced questions about whether he can win another race there. But Mr. Rangel said he was unafraid of losing Latino support.
“I don’t think people share his view. Based on me walking the streets of all parts of the district and in the Bronx, I am so pleased that people see beyond where you were born and have taken in consideration the type of member of Congress I have been,” Mr. Rangel continued. “Only the elections would prove it, but I think you will be hearing more and more from Latinos and non-Latinos in terms of my record.”