Black caucus leader: ‘Chains’ uproar ‘makes absolutely no sense’

The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Thursday dismissed accusations that Vice President Biden’s “chains” remark was an appeal to black voters, saying the charge “makes absolutely no sense.” 

Biden stirred controversy on Tuesday when he said a Mitt Romney administration would give Wall Street free rein and “put y’all back in chains.” Romney accused Biden of fomenting “anger and hate,” which he says is central to President Obama’s campaign.   

But Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), the chairman of the CBC, said he made “absolutely nothing” of Biden’s remarks at the campaign event Tuesday in Danville, Va.

{mosads}”It makes absolutely no sense that some kind of a little throwaway line is now being used to make Vice President Biden appear to have been throwing out these words in order to somehow attract dumb African-Americans who, if they hear the words chains, are going to automatically vote for him and President Obama,” Cleaver said on CNN’s “Starting Point.”

“I would never have even paid much attention to it but for the fact that campaigns nowadays are waiting for any kind of little nugget to try to create an atmosphere of more and more discord.”

Asked whether he’d interpret the phrase the same way if Romney had said it, Cleaver said he would have to know the context first.

“The vice president, if you look at what he said in context, he was saying Wall Street has created a major problem in this country and Mitt Romney wants to come in and give those guys the ability to do it again,” Cleaver said. 


And it would put you back in chains. You would have another Wall Street collapse that will impact the nation and the world. And I’m not here to defend Vice President Biden. I don’t even think that needs to be defended.”

Biden said a Romney administration would give Wall Street free rein over the markets and let banks take advantage of consumers. He has said he was playing off the GOP’s frequent calls to “unshackle” the private sector.

The vice president said the comments, which differed from those on the teleprompter, were neither racially charged nor part of an effort to sway black voters.

Cleaver said that even if Biden’s remarks had been made to a crowd at an NAACP event that “I would say maybe he tried to generate some thoughts about things gone by.”

But he said 

”it made no sense” to see the words as a play on slavery, considering the crowd that gathered in Virginia.

“I mean, why would the vice president go into a setting like that where presumably half of the people wouldn’t have any understanding or feelings about what was going on?” he said.


The reality is that the discourse in our politics has become unsophisticated, unpolished, unnecessary, and rather than try to raise the discord to some degree, both sides look for little things that would remove the discussion from the things that matter to something that’s completely asinine.”

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