Tempe, Ariz. (CNSNews.com) - In remarks following Wednesday night's third and final presidential debate, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking in his capacity as a Kerry adviser, repeated an earlier criticism of the Bush administration -- accusing it of pursuing the "ideology of the Confederacy."
"[Bush is pursuing] the states' rights ideology, in contrast to the Union; the embrace of [former Confederate President] Jefferson Davis rather than Abraham Lincoln," Jackson told CNSNews.com .
Jackson, who officially joined the Kerry campaign as a senior advisor on September 29, first compared the Bush administration to the now-defunct Confederacy in June during his annual Rainbow/PUSH conference in Chicago.
"The ideological right in control of our nation knows what it wants," Jackson said in June. "The right wing fights for a series of constitutional amendments. They intend to have their ideology protected by law. They intend to push the ideology of the Confederacy and continue to challenge the vision of the Union," Jackson said.
On Wednesday, in a post-debate "spin alley," Jackson said the Bush administration can be compared to the Confederacy because "it's anti-labor and it's anti-civil rights, it's anti-workers rights, and that is the Confederacy, and it's why people like [Mississippi Senator] Trent Lott and [House Majority Leader] Tom Delay have disproportional power in this administration."
When asked if he thought Kerry would support his comparison of the Bush administration to the Confederacy, Jackson responded, "This is my language. Kerry supports the Union and Bush supports states' rights."
Jackson added that Kerry "supports workers' right to organize and Bush supports right-to-work laws. And so the contrast is stark and clear in my mind."
Andrew Card, President Bush's chief of staff, condemned Jackson's comparison of Bush's policies to the Confederacy.
"That is an irresponsible statement, and I don't think it even belongs in the rhetoric -- the debate around this election," Card told CNSNews.com. Card said that he expected the Kerry campaign to also "say that it is irresponsible."
But most Kerry campaign operatives did not try to distance themselves from Jackson's statements.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he was going to let Reverend Jackson speak for himself. "The Reverend Jackson has spoken for himself his entire life and does a very effective job doing that," McAuliffe told CNSNews.com .
Kerry's senior advisor Joe Lockhart said, "I am not sure I know what [Jackson] means by that."
Mike McCurry, another one of Kerry's senior advisors, refused to respond to repeated requests for comment. "I didn't hear the question, sorry," McCurry said after CNSNews.com asked him about Jackson's Confederacy comment. Despite CNSNews.com repeating the question two more times, McCurry continued walking and refused to respond.
Former Democratic Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun burst into laughter when CNSNews.com asked her about Jackson's comments.
"I am sorry, I am sorry. No. Well, I mean -- I don't have a reaction -- that is what Reverend Jackson said? That is his view. I don't have a reaction to it," Braun said. "You know, those aren't the kind of terms I use to talk about politics," she added.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros said, "I can only speak for myself, so I am not gong to try to characterize things that way."
Susan Estrich, a Fox News Channel contributor and a former Democratic strategist, said, "I think what Reverend Jackson is saying -- translated into votes-- is you didn't hear President Bush speak to African-Americans tonight."
"I think the point of it was when it came to issue of race, the president punted," Estrich added.
Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie said Jackson's comments are consistent with the overall strategy of the Kerry campaign.
"It's unfortunate to see a once-great party that was led by Franklin Roosevelt who said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,' reduced to a motto of ,'We have nothing to offer but fear itself,'" Gillespie said.
Gillespie said the Democrats are "trying to scare African-Americans with divisive rhetoric like [Jackson's.]"
Bush campaign advisor Ralph Reed said Jackson was off-base in his critique of President Bush.
"Under [Bush's] home ownership initiative, for the first time in American history, a majority of minority Americans own their own homes. That has never been true in American history," Reed said.
"There are 1.56 million more minority homeowners than when the president took office," Reed said. "I think that Jesse Jackson is talking about the politics and not the policies," he added.
When Jackson's role as a senior advisor was announced in September, Kerry called Jackson "one of our most powerful civil rights leaders," and said that Jackson's "lifetime commitment to improving the lives of all Americans has inspired Senator Edwards and me for many years."
"Together, we will send a clear message to all Americans that this campaign is truly dedicated to taking America in a new direction," Kerry said in a statement.
See Related Articles:
Jesse Jackson Says GOP Pushing 'Ideology of the Confederacy' (June 30, 2004)
Jesse Jackson Joins Kerry Campaign (Sept. 29, 2004)
Michael Moore Says 'We Are Doomed' Unless Kerry Wins (Oct. 14, 2004)
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