Rick Tyler, senior strategist for pro-Gingrich SuperPAC Winning Our Future, got into a heated dispute with Al Sharpton and several others on the four liberal-one conservative MSNBC special election coverage panel Tuesday night. The tiff broke out in regards to the former Speaker’s choice of rhetoric on the campaign trail. Rachel Maddow had alleged that Gingrich has been using “racially coded-words” and Al Sharpton scolded Tyler and Republicans for demonizing Democratic programs that support the African-American community. Tyler, finding his inner anti-Media Newt philosophy, said what has been on the tip of many conservatives’ tongues for years: MSNBC needs to stop race-baiting.
“When Mr. Gingrich talked tonight about the President as an ‘entertainer in chief,’ someone who ‘ought to stop singing and deal with the problems of the country,’ I hear racially coded-language,” Maddow said, going on to ask if it’s designed to appeal to southern white conservatives.
“It’s bologna, and you know MSNBC oughta get off this race-baiting kick,” Tyler responded, with the second half of his sentence expunged from the MSNBC transcript of the interview. Tyler went on to point out the Republican Party’s history of civil rights advocacy.
“I don’t understand this,” Tyler went on to say. “More people are on food stamps today because of Barack Obama. They fail in schools, you can ask Al Sharpton,the Democrats have failed in the public schools with African Americans. They abort their babies, they’ve done nothing to lift them out of poverty. I hear all the time the Democrats have these great intentions but their policies fail. Maybe we have good intentions too, but our policies haven’t been tried.”
Tyler went on to say that Gingrich was just trying to show black voters that he wasn’t going to “give them a handout, tell them to live in public housing, shut up, collect a check and vote for a Democrat.”
Sharpton responded strongly to Tyler’s remarks, going on to describe his belief that Gingrich has in fact brought race into the campaign, and in a negative way.
“He(Gingrich) said, and I’m quoting him, that he would go to the NAACP and tell black people to stop being satisfied with food stamps, he didn’t say people on food stamps, he said black people,” Sharpton told Tyler. “He said that black people that in communities that youngsters don’t have role models,” said Gingrich. “This is not what he said when he went on the tour with me for education.”
“It is a patent untruth that President Obama has more people on food stamps,” Sharpton went on to say. “More people went on food stamps under George W. Bush than President Obama, would you call him a food stamp president?”
“We’re not running against George W. Bush,” Tyler said.
As the argument progressed, it become increasingly heated and difficult to transcribe.
“Black people have voted Democrat because the civil rights act, the voting rights act–” Sharpton said over comments from Tyler.
“We vote our interests. When the Republicans were the Abe Lincoln party and was the party of little rock, we voted Republican. Like anybody else in America, we vote our interests, Republican or not,” said Sharpton. “Why would we vote for people that call our parents criminals, that says that you can’t even admit you’re wrong on the facts on food stamps, we’re not sadists or masochist“
“I haven’t,” Tyler replied, before pausing to register what Sharpton just said, “I haven’t said that the Republican Party has done a good job, of reaching out to African-Americans. I think Newt Gingrich has tried to reach out to African-Americans and says there is another party, there is another set of policies that work better for the American family, including the African-American family.”
Maddow eventually jumped back in, saying that “there’s been nothing more racially divisive from a national Republican in the past five years” than what Gingrich was doing.
Watch the heated exchange: