Associated Press (3/13/09)
The highest-ranking black congressman questioned Thursday whether South Carolina’s governor was “playing the race card” when he compared using federal stimulus money to Zimbabwe and other nations that printed cash in tough economic times.
Gov. Mark Sanford wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday asking for a waiver to spend $700 million in stimulus money to pay down some of the state’s debt — a day after comparing the package to other countries that dealt with hard times ineptly. Sanford has been an outspoken critic of the stimulus but hasn’t outright refused any of the money.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., has already lambasted Sanford and other governors who said they may not take some of the stimulus money, calling such a move a “slap in the face of African-Americans” last month. Thursday brought renewed sparring, as Clyburn criticized Sanford for mentioning Zimbabwe.
The comparison “was beyond the pale,” Clyburn said. “The question that ought to be asked of him: Is he playing the race card? I don’t know why he picked that country.”