Presidential Politics, Race and Class

WI Staff Writer | 1/26/2012, 11:28 a.m.

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum said "I would not make black people's lives better by giving them other people's money." This is what the former Pennsylvania senator told a room of mostly white voters during an event before the Iowa caucuses.

"I want to give them an opportunity to go out and earn their own money," said the social conservative. "And provide for themselves and their families."

One day after coming in fourth in Iowa caucuses, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) appeared at a town hall in Plymouth, New Hampshire, where he offered to attend the NAACP convention and explain "why the African-American community should demand paychecks instead of food stamps."

Gingrich also has been advocating employing children from housing projects to clean toilets in public schools so they can learn there are alternative careers to pimping and drug dealing.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney talks about how President Obama wants to create an "entitlement society."

In Iowa, Romney's son, Matt, said his father might release his tax returns "as soon as President Obama releases his grades and birth certificate ..."

Newsletters that went out under Texas Rep. Ron Paul's name in the late 1980s and early 1990s targeted black men as lazy, preferring government handouts to hard work.

"Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks," claimed an article in a Ron Paul newsletter after the Los Angeles rebellion.

Paul's newsletter on black men as criminals:

"Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."

Paul's newsletter on black men as someone to fear:

"We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational."

The 2012 Republican primaries have just gotten underway and already the presidential contenders are saying some pretty ugly things.

As the field narrows the remaining contenders demonstrate two things:

1. Their inability to think on their feet

2. Their inability to command facts.

Santorum's statement, for example, was made in Iowa where 84 percent of the food stamp recipients are white. And nationally, 70 percent of all food stamp recipients also are white.

Santorum's inaccuracies drew criticism from activists such as NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous.