On Thursday morning, CNN's Soledad O'Brien suggested that candidate Newt Gingrich speaks with a "racial coding" on the campaign trail. She gave credibility to former President Carter's bizarre remark about Gingrich having a "subtlety of racism" about him, asking her panel if the quote was a "bombshell."
O'Brien could also have questioned Carter's remark as a smear coming from a Democrat. Instead she seemed to argue in favor of his side. “Is there racial coding in what Newt Gingrich has said in not only in these debates, but also even in some of the campaign stops?” she asked her panel.
When conservative Will Cain of TheBlaze.com tried to argue that Gingrich had not directly brought race into his comments about food stamps and low-income students, O’Brien interrupted him and told him he was “naïve.”
“I just think when you make statements that don't have any relation to race, there are a certain group of people that somehow hear,” Cain stated before he was interrupted. “Maybe I’m naïve,” he shrugged, before O’Brien laughingly affirmed that sentiment.
She also defended Obama from Gingrich’s charge of him being the “food stamp president,” noting “if you actually look at those numbers, it was George Bush.” USDA data would disagree with that assumption.
The highest average number of people on food stamps for any year during the Bush administration was 28.2 million, in the fiscal year 2008. The number increased by almost 60 percent over the next three years to 44.7 million for the fiscal year 2011.
A brief transcript of the segment, which aired on January 19 at 7:09 a.m. EST, is as follows:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about Jimmy Carter's comments on Piers Morgan. I thought this was a really interesting interview, because we've been discussing this, Roland, over the last couple days. So this is what Jimmy Carter told Piers Morgan last night.
JIMMY CARTER, former President of the United States: I think he has got that subtlety of racism that I know quite well and that –
PIERS MORGAN, CNN host, Piers Morgan Tonight: Really?
CARTER: -- Gingrich knows quite well that appeals to some people in Georgia, particularly the right wing.
MORGAN: And you think he's doing it deliberately?
CARTER: I think so. He knows as well the words that you use, like "welfare mommas" and so forth, that have been appealing in the past in those days when they cherished segregation of the races. So he's appealing for that in South Carolina. I don't think it will pay off in the long run.
(End Video Clip)
O'BRIEN: So, is this a bombshell at all? I mean, I think a lot – this is the debate we were having yesterday, which was that sort of racial coding. Is there racial coding in what Newt Gingrich has said in not only in these debates, but also even in some of the campaign stops.
CAIN: You know how I feel about this, Soledad. I think when you draw a series of logical conclusions where race is not involved – if you say that unemployment is higher in urban areas and you say children emulate the behavior of their parents, draw that string. And then you say children in urban areas aren't acquiring a work ethic –
O'BRIEN: But I'm talking about things when you say that this president is the president who is the food stamp president, and if you actually look at those numbers, it was George Bush.
CAIN: There are more people on food stamps who are white than black. I just think when you make statements that don't have any relation to race, there are a certain group of people that somehow hear –
CAIN: Maybe I'm naive.
CAIN: Yes. Yes, you are. You are naive. Yes, you are.