Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) — one of the GOP’s top targets in the midterm elections — says race played some role in the vehement opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care reforms that he encountered during raucous community meetings over the summer.
Perriello — who seems to be far less afraid of being unseated than other Dems in red districts — told Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he overheard racist remarks during a series of highly contentious town halls over the summer — and sometimes those comments went uncontested.
“What do you think of Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments about the concern that this could bring us back to another time where things were very violent and that this could go in a bad direction, the discourse?” Brzezinski asked.
Replied Perriello: “I conducted over a hundred hours of town hall meetings in my district in central and Southern Virginia, and the vast majority of them were civil; people disagreed passionately on ideological grounds. And there were the rare cases where very racist remarks were made. Sometimes they were called out by neighbors in the audience; sometimes they weren’t. Clearly, race remains a factor in America, but there’s also a lot of disagreement here that is genuine and not based on race, so I think we have to have both conversations.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee pooh-poohed, with a little swipe at Perriello’s Yale education: “Much like Jimmy Carter and Nancy Pelosi, Tom Perriello is mistaking genuine opposition to the president’s agenda for bigotry. These insulting remarks are yet another indication that Perriello’s Ivy-bred elitism is impeding his ability to represent everyday Virginians.”