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Thursday, September 04, 2008

"Uppity"



Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

"Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said.

Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

Other Democrats have charged that the Republican campaign to paint the Illinois senator as an “elitist” is racially charged, and accused them of using code words for “uppity” without using the word itself.

In August, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) told reporters, “When I hear the word ‘elitist’ linked with Barack Obama, to me, that is a code word for 'uppity.' I find it extremely offensive and John McCain should know better.”

Political consultant David Gergen, who has worked in both Republican and Democratic White Houses, said on ABC’s "This Week" that “As a native of the south, I can tell you, when you see this Charlton Heston ad, 'The One,' that's code for, 'He's uppity, he ought to stay in his place.' Everybody gets that who is from a Southern background.”

The Obama campaign, asked about the quote, did not note any racial context.

“Sounds like Rep. Westmoreland should be careful throwing stones from his candidate's eight glass houses,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Campaigning against the first black major-party nominee has already created some problems for Republicans.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said that Obama's middle name – Hussein – is relevant to the public discourse surrounding his candidacy, saying in March that if Obama were elected, "Then the radical Islamists, the al Qaeda, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror."

At an April 12 event in his district, Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis (R) said of Obama: “I’m going to tell you something: That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button. He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country.”

Davis sent a letter of apology to Obama in which he described his remark as a “poor choice of words.”

Westmoreland originally supported former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination. He now supports McCain, but missed an August fundraiser for the nominee because he was vacationing with his family.

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