Former White House green jobs adviser Van Jones attacked FreedomWorks over its national tour about race and the economy, calling the very idea of it "borderline insulting."
The "Black and White Tour" with FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe and Outreach Director Deneen Borelli is hitting 11 states to discuss how "liberal economic policy disproportionately harms the black community." Black unemployment was 14.1 in August, compared to 8.1 percent overall.
"It started off as a joke between Deneen and I," Kibbe told TheBlaze. "I'm white, she's black, but we think that freedom is a black and white issue and we don't like the fact that the left likes to divide people between race and class...we really think that economic freedom is good for everybody."
Jones blasted the effort, calling it a ploy that black voters would see right through.
"The very premise of this tour is borderline insulting," Jones told CNN. "It's as if they think African-Americans don't know what the Republican Party stands for. But we have television; we know. It would be more effective for them to challenge some of those very unfriendly forces inside their own party before passing out invitations for new people to join."
Borelli hit back at Jones' characterization and said FreedomWorks is just presenting the facts.
"It's not surprising he would use a racial comment in terms of taking shots at what we're trying to do, which is educate individuals, empower them and not have them lean towards entitlement and relying on the government," she told TheBlaze. "My question of Van Jones is where are the green jobs he promised those in the black community? I see him as the pied piper who was leading black voters in the wrong direction."
Jones also accused FreedomWorks of taking advantage of black voters, saying "it's very easy to capitalize on people who are hurting." Kibbe disputed that, saying Jones is "accusing us of something that progressives have done forever -- capitalizing on the economic damange done by big government to forever lock people into a top-down system."
"I wonder what he's afraid of," Kibbe said, noting that the "Black and White Tour" is not meant to drive voters to vote Republican. "Is it 'insulting' that we're actually having a conversation with all Americans regardless of the color of their skin? Is it insulting because he thinks he has a top-down monopoly on what it is black people are allowed to think? It's fascinating to me that he would think anything but 'oh great, we'll have an open conversation let's put our ideas on the table, let's have a real argument about the things we disagree on.'"
Borelli called Jones' remarks an act of desperation.
"These are the conversations that we need to be having with people instead of playing the race card and instead of saying that people are taking advantage of others," she said. "If anyone is being taken advantage of it's those in the black community by people such as Van Jones who can only resort to playing the race card because they've got nothing else to really argue."