By Justin Sink - 11/20/12 08:08 AM ET
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Tuesday a letter from nearly 100 House Republicans urging President Obama not to appoint Susan Rice as Secretary of State employed racially-charged "code words" to make its case.
The letter, signed by 97 House Republicans, says Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter" — language Clyburn saw as racially loaded.
"You know, these are code words," Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, told CNN. "We heard them during the campaign, during this recent campaign we heard Sen. Sununu calling our president lazy, incompetent, these kinds of terms that those of us, especially those of us who were grown and raised in the South, we would hear these little words and phrases all of our lives and we'd get insulted by them.
"Susan Rice is as competent as anybody you will find, and just to paste that word on her causes problems with people like [incoming Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman] Marcia Fudge and certainly cause a big problem with me," he added.
In a press conference earlier this week, Fudge said she believed criticism of Rice contained "a clear… sexism and racism."
"It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities," Fudge added.
Why was I not previously informed of the existence of the Fudge family?
Clyburn described himself as frustrated by the criticism of Rice. While it is fair to criticize her for having initially claimed the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was the result of a protest against an anti-Islam video, he objected to the language used by Republican leaders.
"I don't like those words," Clyburn said. "Say she was wrong for doing it, but don't call her incompetent."