CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash
(CNN) – In an exclusive interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, Rep. Bennie Thompson doubled down on controversial remarks he made about race over the weekend.
The Mississippi Democrat had argued Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a black conservative, is an “Uncle Tom” who doesn’t stand up for African Americans.
In his interview with the New Nation of Islam webcast on Sunday, which was first reported by BuzzFeed, the eleven-term African American argued President Barack Obama has been mistreated by other politicians, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, because he is black.
Here’s the interview between Bash and Thompson:
Bash: When you said Clarence Thomas was an “Uncle Tom,” what did you mean by that?
Thompson: “Well if you look at his decisions on the court, they have been adverse to the minority community, and the people I represent have a real issue with an African American not being sensible to those issues.”
Bash: Isn’t that a racially charged term?
Thompson: “For some it is, but to others it’s the truth.”
Bash: Because looking at that and hearing that kind of language, that certainly wouldn’t be appropriate if it was coming from somebody who was white.
Thompson: “But I’m black.”
Bash: That makes it OK?
Thompson: “I mean, you’re asking me the question, and I’m giving you a response. The people that I represent, for the most part, have a real issue with those decisions–voter ID, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act–all those issues are very important and for someone in the court who’s African American and not sensitive to that is a real problem.”
Bash: The other thing you were talking about is the fact that you believe some of the opposition, maybe even much of the opposition, to the president is because of the color of his skin.
Thompson: “Well, I’ve been here a long time. I’ve seen a lot of issues come before Congress. I’ve never seen the venom put forth on another candidate or a president like I’ve seen with this president and that’s my opinion.”
Bash: Are there specific things that people have said that are racially tinged that make you say that, or are you reading the tea leaves of what’s going on?
Thompson: “I’ve seen quite a few State of the Union messages, I’ve never heard a president called a liar in a State of the Union message.”
Bash: You think Congressman Joe Wilson was race based?
Thompson: “Well, I’ve never heard it before, it was a stupid decision…statement, but it has no real bearing.”
Bash: last question, just broadly…Where do you think the Republican Party is right now on issues of race? You have younger people who are trying to reach out to the African American community. Do you see things changing?
Thompson: “You always see a change when you see the policies change, when you see programs that have been beneficial to the survival to African Americans in this country being cut, whether it’s Head Start, nutrition programs, educational programs, job training programs. It’s hard to demonstrate that you care about people when the programs that they hold closest to their survival are being put on the chopping block.”
Bash: Were Mitch McConnell’s comments were racist?
Thompson: “It had nothing to with that. The comments are insensitive. To say to a president that you’re going to oppose anything that he puts out there is just totally…”
Bash: You think it was race based?
Thompson: “Well I’ve never heard him say it to any other president.”