The Republican Jewish Coalition is responding quickly to Rep. Alcee Hastings’ (D-Fla.) comment that “anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks” at Wednesday’s National Jewish Democratic Council conference. It calls that remark and Rep. Steve Cohen’s comment that Jesus was “a great Democrat” inappropriate and offensive. Here’s their release:
Washington, D.C. (September 25, 2008) – Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks responded today to comments made yesterday by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN):
CNN reported yesterday that Rep. Hastings, speaking to the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), said, “Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.” Addressing the same panel, Rep. Cohen called Jesus “a great Democrat.”
“Representative Hastings stooped to the worst kind of divisive politics yesterday. Hastings’ unconscionable remarks do nothing but sow seeds of fear and divide people,” said Brooks. “There should be no place in our country for this sort of political discourse. We can constructively disagree on the issues without denigrating others. As for the comments made by Rep. Cohen, I do not believe the NJDC would have been as permissive if it had been a Republican calling Jesus ‘a great Republican.’ This sort of rhetoric is inappropriate, offensive and should be repudiated.”
Full CNN story below:
(CNN) – Rep. Alcee Hastings told an audience of Jewish Democrats Wednesday that they should be wary of Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin because “anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.”
“If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention,” Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida said at a panel about the shared agenda of Jewish and African-American Democrats Wednesday. Hastings, who is African-American, was explaining what he intended to tell his Jewish constituents about the presidential race. “Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through,” Hastings added as the room erupted in laughter and applause.
After telling attendees that the most important thing Jewish and African-American Democrats could do to support one another was to get Sen. Barack Obama elected president, Hastings had one more message: “For those of you like me that supported Sen. Hillary Clinton, she lost! Get over it!”
Hastings was joined on the panel by Rep. Steven Cohen of Tennessee, who is Jewish and represents a majority African-American district; Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, who is African-American and whose district includes many of the significant sites in the 1960’s civil rights movement; and Georgetown Law Prof. Peter Edelman, who was a legislative assistant to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Cohen, who recently remarked that Jesus Christ was a community organizer, took his comments about the founder of the Christian faith further Wednesday. “A lot of what Jesus talks about is wonderful,” Cohen said. “Talks about helping people and lifting them up and caring about people who are sick and all those things. He’s a great Democrat.”
The panel was part of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s annual conference. The Jewish Democratic group recently voiced criticism of Palin’s invitation to an anti-Iran rally timed to coincide with Mahmoud Ahmedinajad’s visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. Palin’s invitation was withdrawn by the rally’s organizers after Hillary Clinton announced that she would no longer be attending the event.
The support of Jewish voters is shaping up to be a highly sought after prize in the general election match-up between Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain. Jews have historically favored Democrats by wide margins in recent presidential races. But, the McCain campaign is making a concerted effort to go after the loyal Democratic constituency and Obama has been plagued by false Internet rumors that he is Muslim which have had particular salience in the Jewish community.