Weekly Standard blog: Bill Clinton on the ‘Cracker Vote’

Weekly Standard blog (9/24/08)

Bill Clinton on the ‘Cracker Vote’

Via Ben Smith, Bill Clinton tells CNN’s Larry King in an interview about his plans to help Obama win Florida:

“You know, they think that because of who I am and where my politic[al] base has traditionally been, they may want me to go sort of hustle up what Lawton Chiles used to call the ‘cracker vote’ there.”

Is Clinton intentionally trying to stir up racial resentment by saying that “they” (presumably the Obama campaign) want him to “hustle up … the ‘cracker vote'”? According to a search in Nexis, Clinton has never publicly used the phrase “cracker vote” before now. Lawton Chiles did use the word “cracker” in a non-pejorative manner, once during a campaign event with Clinton in 1996 according to a Hearst newspapers story:

“I know this fella from Arkansas,” boasted Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles as he introduced Bill Clinton to a Democratic fund-raising reception in this GOP stronghold. “And I can tell you he knows how to speak cracker.”

There’s been a lot of paranoid speculation in this election that certain people are trying to play the race card. Clinton’s usage is the latest evidence that it’s the Democrats who are the race-obsessed party in this cycle.

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