Sen. Barack Obama gave a speech to black clergy in 2007 saying the Bush administration's handling of hurricane Katrina "was colorblind in its incompetence." Conservatives now say Obama used racially charged rhetoric.
Conservatives on Tuesday used a speech President Barack Obama delivered as a candidate in 2007 to accuse him of using racially charged rhetoric.
"There's no way you can listen to this speech and not hear it as a deliberately divisive speech that pits Americans against each other and does so largely with racial innuendoes that are very, very clear when you hear the speech," former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said on Fox News, which aired segments of the videotaped speech.
At issue Tuesday, one day before the first presidential debate and as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney trails in polls, was a speech then-candidate Obama made to black clergy at Hampton University, a historically black institution in Virginia. Media outlets including The Associated Press and Fox News covered the remarks at the time.
Obama — now the nation's first black president — said in the speech that the Bush administration did nothing to defuse a "quiet riot" among blacks that threatened to erupt in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Then a U.S. senator from Illinois, Obama also said the Bush administration "was colorblind in its incompetence."