Joe Scarborough said Friday that he doesn’t understand what evidence Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has to back up his claim that opposition to President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is driven by his race.
“I must say, I have been behind closed doors with thousands of conservatives through the years. I have never once heard one of them say in the deep south or in the northeast or in South Boston, ‘Boy, I really hate Obamacare because that black president’ — no, I’ve never heard anybody come close to saying that,” Scarborough said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And I have spoken to some wildly right wing groups. I have never heard it once.”
Scarborough was reacting to a tense exchange between Rockefeller and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) Wednesday during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on health care. Johnson took offense when Rockefeller suggested that some of those who oppose the Affordable Care Act don’t like the President because he’s “of the wrong color.”
“He’s the only Republican in the room, and Sen. Rockefeller suggested that millions and millions of Americans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as the President likes it to be called, have racist reasons for doing that,” Scarborough said. “That’s one of the stupidest, most offensive things I’ve heard a sitting senator say.”
“He owes Ron Johnson an apology,” he added.
Scarborough argued “playing the race card” is nothing new for either Democrats or Republicans, but said he expected more of Rockefeller, who served in the Senate when both former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary were “savaged” for trying to set up a national health care system. He said Rockefeller should have acknowledged that anyone opposing Obama because of his race is on the margins of public opinion.
“I don’t think that’s constructive at all, when Hillary Clinton faced as much or more animosity in 1993 or 1994 than Barack Obama,” he said.