In comments sure to cascade into regional races across the South, embattled Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday that Southern racism is to blame for President Barack Obama’s unpopularity.
“Why does President Obama have a hard time in Louisiana?” asked Todd.
“Let me be very, very honest with you,” saidLandrieu. “The South has not always been the friendliest place forAfrican-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president topresent himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
Landrieu added: “It has not always been a good place for women, to be ableto present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place. So we’ve hadto work a little bit harder on that. But, you know, the people trust me,I believe. Really, they do.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted Landrieu’s comments as desperate and out of touch.
“She appears to be living in a different century. Implied in her comments is the clear suggestion that President Obama and his policies are unpopular in Louisiana because of his ethnicity,” said Jindal. “That is a major insult by Senator Landrieu to the people of Louisiana, and I flatly reject it.”
Landrieu’s controversial remarks threaten to spill over into other Southern races, further placing already vulnerable Democrats in the uncomfortable position of having to defend or reject Landrieu’s statements. Democrats who reject Landrieu’s comments risk alienating black voters. Those who agree with Landrieu risk alienating white voters.
The latest USA Today poll shows Landrieu trailing her Republican challenger Bill Cassidy by seven percentage points.