In the race for the presidency, the mudslinging by Democrats remains at a hyperbolic level. During a campaign speech in Danville, VA, Vice President Joe Biden told an audience including many black Americans that Republicans would “put y’all back in chains” if the Romney/Ryan ticket wins the election. “Romney wants to let the–he said in the first hundred days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street,” said Biden. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”
Andrea Saul, Mitt Romney’s press secretary condemned the remarks. “After weeks of slanderous and baseless accusations leveled against Governor Romney, the Obama Campaign has reached a new low,” she said in a statement. “The comments made by the vice president of the United States are not acceptable in our political discourse and demonstrate yet again that the Obama campaign will say and do anything to win this election. President Obama should tell the American people whether he agrees with Joe Biden’s comments.”
Gov. Romney himself blasted the Obama camp in much harsher terms. “Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago,” he said, in one of the boldest salvos yet to come from the Republican presidential candidate.
Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama’s deputy campaign manager, was quick to defend the Vice President. “We have no problem with those comments,” she said during an appearance on MSNBC. After defending Biden, she was asked if the president also agreed with his remarks. Cutter said he likely did, but that context was important. “[Obama] probably agrees with Joe Biden’s sentiments,” she contended. “[Biden's] using a metaphor to talk about what’s going to happen.” She then directed her remarks at the Romney campaign. “I appreciate the faux outrage from the Romney campaign. But if you want to talk about the use of words, then take a look at Mitt Romney’s stump speech where he basically calls the president ‘un-American,’” Cutter added.
Saul released a second statement following Cutter’s remarks. “In case anyone was wondering just how low President Obama could go in his campaign for reelection, we now know he’s willing to say that Governor Romney wants to put people back in chains,” she said. “Whether its accusing Mitt Romney of being a felon, having been responsible for a woman’s tragic death or now wanting to put people in chains, there’s no question that because of the president’s failed record he’s been reduced to a desperate campaign based on division and demonization.”
Division and demonization are a given, but more curious is whether or not a remark about putting people back in chains, uttered in front of an audience with a large contingent, of black Americans, might have been a purposive reference to slavery to incite racial hatred. New York Magazine’s Dan Amira attempted to deflect that obvious connection. “We guess the question is, if Biden wasn’t making a wildly provocative allusion to slavery, what was he doing?” Amira writes. “Possibly, making a still-over-the-top but not as provocative allusion to the perils of an unrestrained financial industry…In other words, when Wall Street is unchained, the rest of America is ‘back in chains’–that is, back at the mercy of the banks. Hyperbolic? Yes. Demagogic? Yes. But it’s a totally plausible explanation when you consider the context.”
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