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updated: 6/2/2012 7:10 AM

Walsh in hot water for Schaumburg town hall comments about blacks, Hispanics

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  • Congressman Joe Walsh meets with his constituents at a town-hall meeting in Barrington at the Garlands earlier this year. Walsh has come under fire for recent comments he made at a Schaumburg town hall last week, that blacks and Hispanics were dependent on government. Walsh says the comments were not about race but a "shot" at the Democratic Party.

       Congressman Joe Walsh meets with his constituents at a town-hall meeting in Barrington at the Garlands earlier this year. Walsh has come under fire for recent comments he made at a Schaumburg town hall last week, that blacks and Hispanics were dependent on government. Walsh says the comments were not about race but a "shot" at the Democratic Party.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Kerry Lester
Politics and Projects Writer
klester@dailyherald.com

Congressman Joe Walsh is under fire for comments he made at a Schaumburg town hall that critics construe as racist.

But he disagrees and is not backing away from them.

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"The Democratic Party promises groups of people everything," the McHenry Tea Partyer said. "They want the Hispanic vote. They want Hispanics to be dependent on government, just like they got African Americans dependent on government. That's their game."

Walsh goes on to say that civil rights activist Jesse Jackson "would be out of work if (blacks) weren't dependent on government."

Walsh's remarks were caught on video and are being circulated by CREDO SuperPAC, the San Fransisco-based SuperPac that is actively working to defeat him in the November election.

In an interview Friday, Walsh said his statements "have nothing to do with race."

"My shot, this had nothing to do with race. My shot was at the Democratic Party. Look, they're the party of (big) government," he said. "We're at a really scary, dangerous time right now. We now in this country have more in the wagon than pulling the wagon."

Walsh also earlier Friday told WIND-AM 560 radio hosts Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson that all Jackson "is trying to do is keep African Americans down on some plantation."

Walsh told the Daily Herald later that if he used the word plantation, he shouldn't have.

"If I did, then I absolutely regret that. That just shot out," Walsh said. "My point on Jesse Jackson is he lives and breathes in the racism industry. The more he can expound on the fact that America is a racist society, the better for him. That's just wrong."

Walsh went on to say that Republicans have a challenge to work to keep black and Hispanic voters by talking about school choice and school vouchers.

Walsh is making a bid for re-election in the 8th Congressional District, which contains portions of Cook, Kane and DuPage Counties. His Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, noted in a statement that "Congressman Walsh's remarks are not only offensive, they are especially irresponsible coming from a sitting member of Congress."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put the 8th District Congressional race at the top of its list of 25 seats it hopes to win back to regain the House majority next year.

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