GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennett is firing back at an MSNBC guest and NAACP chapter president L. Joy Williams, who labeled Carson a “safe negro” for Republicans.
Meanwhile, Williams incredibly is now claiming that she only used the phrase to describe the rationale of what some of Carson’s supporters think–not herself.
“I think if a Republican had said similar things about Barack Obama, they would probably be under investigation,” Bennett told Breitbart News.
Bennett added that it’s “better to be thought a fool than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Williams, a Democratic strategist and the president of the Brooklyn chapter of the NAACP, appeared on MSNBC’s Up on Sunday and said: “So one you’re right, Dr. Carson’s story is one in which those who knew him beforehand, which I am among them, knew of his inspirational story. It was something he communicated all the time. But you mentioned something really important. The really important thing of people supporting him because it’s, ‘Oh, there’s another black man commenting or — negatively against the president and I don’t feel comfortable in doing so, um because of the race factor.’ So here’s someone who can do it.”
In discussion after Williams’ original remarks, she noted–while holding up her hands on screen to make an air quote gesture–she said people are supporting Carson because he is a “safe negro” to back. The discussion happened on live national television and was widely reported on. But now, Williams–when contacted by Breitbart News and asked why she said that–claimed she wasn’t calling him a “safe negro,” but describing what she viewed as the rationale behind some of Carson’s supporters’ backing of him.
“I did not call him a ‘safe negro,'” she said in an email to Breitbart News. “In responding to the GOP panel member’s comment about Dr. Carson criticizing the President, ‘…a Black man attacking another Black man…’, I said that he is perceived that way by some of his supporters. That is evident even among those who are critical of my comment and sending messages to me about it. They believe Dr. Carson is ‘not like the rest of you Blacks’ (a direct quote of a message I received). If one subscribes to this thought, they believe that the default for Blacks is one of degradation, violence and poverty. The point I made is that there are those who support him because of this thought process.”
Williams also told Breitbart News that she truly does believe people who support Carson like his faith and his personal success story.
“When we began the segment I said I believed that most of his supporters were attracted to his faith and his inspirational story,” Williams told Breitbart News. “This I truly believe. His achievements is a story we all grew up with and it is a compelling one that works in politics.”
After her MSNBC appearance, Williams also took to Twitter to defend herself and let her critics know that she stands by her ‘safe negro’ comment.
“I responded to the GOP consultant next to me who said ‘a Black man attacking another Black man’ when referring to Dr. Carson’s appeal,” she said in one Tweet.
“In that same segment, I also said that Dr. Carson’s appeal was largely due to his faith and inspirational story,” she added in another.
“In that same segment I disagreed with those being critical and implying something sinister of Dr. Carson’s faith,” she said in a third.
“But I stand by my response that some express their support for Dr. Carson based on a thought that he is ‘safe’ and ‘not like the rest,'” Williams said in a fourth Tweet.
The national NAACP did not respond to a request for comment.
This is not the first time that Carson has been targeted by liberal African Americans. In October, University of Pennsylvania religious-studies professor Anthea Butler said that Carson deserved the “coon of the year” award. The word is a derogatory term used to describe African-Americans.
Carson was also the victim of racial rhetoric from PBS host Tavis Smiley, who called Carson a “a black bull in a Republican china shop.” During a debate on Fox News regarding Carson’s critique of President Barack Obama’s presidency, Smiley said:
Ben Carson has been respected and revered, not just respected, but revered, admired in black America for years, for these gifted hands that he still possesses. But Ben Carson is, how might I put this, he’s a black bull in Republican china shop. And if he’s not careful, he’s going to do himself irreparable damage. He’s going to do the party damage. And if I were a person in his space, who professed to love Ben Carson, I’d call for an intervention to stop him from doing what he’s doing to himself and his reputation.
But Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, tells Breitbart News that these tactics by the left to take down Carson are failing. The campaign raised $20 million in the third fundraising quarter which ended at the end of September, he said. In October alone, as well, Carson’s campaign raised another $10 million.
Carson will also be speaking to black conservatives in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday about efforts he’s leading to expand GOP reach into the black community and get blacks to vote for conservatives.