Tales from the Trail

Racial overtones at healthcare protest

John Lewis

The protests against healthcare reform took an ugly turn on Saturday. Black congressmen told reporters that demonstrators called them the N-word and one representative said he was spat upon.

“This is not the first time the congressman has been called the N-word and certainly not the worst assault he has endured in his years fighting for equal rights for all Americans,” said a statement from the office of Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver.

“That being said, he is disappointed that in the 21st century our national discourse has devolved to the point of name-calling and spitting.”

The statement said the man suspected of spitting on Cleaver was quickly arrested by police but that the congressman would not press charges.

The confrontations came as Democratic House members were going to the Capitol to hear President Barack Obama rally members to vote for the healthcare overhaul, which Democratic leaders predict will be passed in a House vote on Sunday. A crowd of at least 100 loud, sign-toting protesters gathered around the representatives.

McCain stunned by Rep. Lewis comments on campaign

rtx9ib0.jpgWASHINGTON – Republican presidential hopeful John McCain had previously made it clear he was a big admirer of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis — but now not so much.

Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, said late last week that he was disturbed by the negative tone of the Republican’s campaign, accusing McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” and that it reminded him of the segregationist era of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

The lawmaker later clarified his remarks, saying he did not compare the two to Wallace and that his purpose was to remind candidates that “toxic language can lead to destructive behavior.”