By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–Alabama GOP Chairman Bill Armistead is calling on Democrats to apologize yet again. Last week, at a meeting of the Over the Mountain Democratic Club in Birmingham, Senate Minority Leader Vivian Figures said that race played an integral part in the Republican rise to power in Alabama.
Figures said that local and statewide candidates used widespread attacks on President Obama and his policies to win election in 2010.
“I think it’s racism. At its core I just do,” Figures said. “I don’t think that before Obama ran and won we heard state Republicans making so many statements about national issues that they would have little say over.”
Armistead has requested that Figures issue an apology for her statements.
“I will apologize for nothing I said on Tuesday evening…My response reflected my personal opinion regarding the matter of many Republican candidates in local and state races, campaigning as if they were running against President Obama,” Figures said. “It’s a tactic never before used systematically in Alabama during any other presidency.”
Armistead disagreed with Figures’s statement that Alabama Republicans were not as adamantly opposed to the policies of Presidents Carter and Clinton.
“Alabama opposes the liberal policies being put in place by Obama’s administration, especially the so-called Affordable Care Act. We opposed the same measure when Bill Clinton pushed it in the 1990’s when it was referred to as “Hillarycare.'”
The Executive Board of the Over the Mountain Democrats released a letter to the editor, mostly criticizing Charles Dean’s coverage of the meeting, which they called “selective journalism.”
“‘Racism’ is a hot button, guaranteed to boost readership of a newspaper column, guaranteed to increase comments from anonymous postings,” the letter said. “Relying on ‘racism’ to get a rise is lazy journalism.”
The letter explained that Figures spoke informally for around 50 minutes “with a reasoned voice, passion for her convictions, humor and refreshing candor.”
“Dean chose to focus on just a few minutes when she said the election of the first Black President has helped Republicans gain dominance of state offices because Obama’s election triggered a backlash among many white Alabamians, an effect she attributed in part to racism,” the letter said.
This is not the first time Armistead and the Alabama Republican Party have called on Democrats to apologize.
Democrats were asked to apologize when Representative Joseph Mitchell (D-Mobile) sent a racially-charged email to a constituent. Democrats were also asked to apologize for attending an event with talk show host Bill Maher because of his history of sexist statements.
When Senator Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) referred to Blacks as “aborigines,” or said that we should “empty the clip” to control immigration, Armistead did not call for an apology. Instead, he defended Beason, calling him “one of the most honorable people he knows” and saying he “does not have a racist bone in his body,” according to an Associated Press article.
The Alabama GOP is hosting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for a fundra
iser on August 23. Walker’s former communication director Jill Bader drew heat after posting a racially-charged update on her Twitter page. Armistead did not joined Democrats in calling for an apology from Walker or his staffer.
Senator Jeff Sessions has an accused history of racist comments, including calling an African-American staffer “boy.” Congressman Mike Rogers made a statement referring to President Obama as “this ol’ boy.” Armistead has never called on either to apologize.