The Governor, PA's First Lady and Me at the Governor's Mansion last year.
Last week Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell told the Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette while discussing the Presidential race that, "You've got conservative whites here (in Pennsylvania), and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate." He went on to add, "I believe, looking at the returns in my election, that had Lynn Swann [2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate] been the identical candidate that he was --well-spoken, charismatic, good-looking -- but white instead of black, instead of winning by 22 points, I would have won by 17 or so."
See the remarks for yourself here:
The comment sent shockwaves throughout the national political establishment. Ed Rendell, the popular Governor, former District Attorney, Mayor of Philadelphia and DNC Chairman, is well respected in the African-American community. Some have accused Rendell of race baiting and are blaming "a desperate" Clinton camp for sending out surrogates to do their "dirty work". "This is a pattern," complained one poster on the Web site DailyKos. "The Clintons tried to split the race along racial lines as soon as they looked vulnerable."
Mr. Swann, Pennsylvania's 2006 Republican gubernatorial nominee, yesterday issued a scathing critique of Rendell's remarks, calling them "unnecessary, certainly insensitive. I think it's obvious that Ed Rendell is looking for a place to support Mrs. Clinton and took an opportunity to make a statement that would be negative toward her opponent," Mr. Swann said. "There's no need for Ed Rendell to make that comment whatsoever, and I think it's arrogant on his part to make the statement that he still would have won by 17 percent."
As of late the Governor has somewhat peddled from his statement, "I regret saying it because of the way it was interpreted," the governor said recently. "Remember -- I always tell the truth. Maybe I'm wrong, but I tell what my experience has taught me. What's so frustrating about this is that in this business, if you give an honest answer, you get skewered for it," Mr. Rendell said. "If you give the politically correct answer, the press says, 'Aw, that guy, he's just a shucker and jiver and never gives a straight answer.' I get in trouble for telling the truth." Governor Rendell then went to MSNBC to give his side of the story:
We can debate whether the comments were racist, insensitive or misinterpreted. I say that while I have always admired the Governor as the most savvy politician in the Keystone State, he really stepped in a minefield on this one. The bigger question is: Are white Pennsylvanian's ready to vote for Barack Obama, or not? And will Pennsylvania become another South Carolina?