Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday that no matter how "black" presidential candidate Herman Cain is, his conservative views are fundamentally at odds with the rest of the black community -- and white people only like him because he says what they want to hear.
Speaking on his radio program with Professor Karen Hunter -- the same person who accused the Associated Press of racism for dropping the g's in its reporting of a President Barack Obama speech -- Sharpton essentially accused Cain of forgetting his roots when it comes to his politics.
"How could anyone in their right mind -- they grew up in the south and saw what they saw -- and act like everyone that is unemployed and that is not rich did it to themselves?" Sharpton said. "So I would assume he is either socially ignorant or playing games to get votes, that he couldn't possibly have grown up and come to that conclusion unless he was one or the other."
Hunter protested the "playing games" idea, raising the specter of two prominent black conservatives generally abhorred by the traditionally liberal community: "He's not Clarence Thomas, he's not Alan Keyes, he's not the stereotypical sellout black person who is pandering to white people. This man is married to a black woman, raising black kids and his mind is authentically black."
"You ain't got be Alan Keyes or Clarence Thomas to be wrong," Sharpton cut in. "To stand up and say that the n-word doesn't bother me two days after he called it insensitive...to say that people are causing their own unemployment and therefore they ain't rich is wrong."
Blasting Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan, Sharpton added: "You can talk all about authentically more black...you don't see black people gravitating toward him, you see right wing whites!"
"Herman Cain is not even going to the black community," Sharpton continued. "He sees us as the backboard to shoot against to try to get the net in to the right. He's not trying to get the black votes."
But Hunter warned that Cain shouldn't simply be discounted.
"Don't think that just because he says all the crazy whacked-out things that he's not going to have some momentum," Hunter cautioned.
"I don't think that Herman Cain will win one primary because I think that at the end of the day the people that are cheering him like what he is saying but they will not vote for him," Sharpton said.
Hunter disagreed, saying "As baffling as it is there's something to him when he gets in front of people one-on-one that they walk away with a sold-out spirit."
"Old man river," Sharpton suddenly sang out. "That's what they walk away with: A guy singing and saying what the right wing wants to hear."
Cain's race come under fire several other times this week from Sharpton's fellow MSNBC hosts Lawrence O'Donnell and Martin Bashir. O'Donnell accused Cain of "sitting on those sidelines" during the civil rights movement, and Bashir similarly accused him of not doing his part to fight racism.
Audio below, via Radio Equalizer: