Black Caucus chairman Cleaver: GOP candidates are campaigning on 'subliminal racial messages'

“In the last few days, both Gov. Romney and Speaker Gingrich have been guilty of saying things that are not helpful to a society begging for racial inclusion,” said Cleaver, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, speaking on CNBC. “Whether they are intentional or not, I’m not 100 percent certain; I do know that it doesn't matter in many cases. It’s just unfortunate and it tends to divide.”

Cleaver cited as examples Newt Gingrich’s recent comments on food stamps, including calling President Obama a “food stamp president,” and Mitt Romney’s comments on “the very poor.”


Gingrich said in January that Obama is a "food stamp president" because he has put more people on food stamps than any other president, a statement he defended from critics as not racially being charged.

Earlier this week in an appearance on CNN, Romney said, “I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it.”

Under attack, Romney sought to clarify the statement by saying his comment spoke to the “focus” of his campaign, which is on middle-income families.

Cleaver went on to chide Congress for being “nasty” rather than “inclusive.”

“We have a rocking-chair government, a lot of motion but not going anywhere and that's because bees cannot make honey and sting at the same time and the members of Congress are preoccupied with stinging each other,” he said.