NAACP President Benjamin Jealous assailed GOP presidential hopeful and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for what he labeled “inaccurate, divisive” comments about Blacks and food stamps. Gingrich, in remarks delivered in New Hampshire where he is trying to jumpstart his presidential campaign, said, “If the N.A.A.C.P. invites me, I’ll go to their convention, talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”
The statement came during a campaign stop in his drive to win the New Hampshire primary. He told reporters if he were the Republican nominee, he would run against President Obama in part by visiting minority communities to pitch his supply-side recipe for job creation.
“It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country,” said Jealous. “The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job.”
“We invited Speaker Gingrich to attend our annual convention several times when he was Speaker of the House, but he declined to join us,” Jealous continued. “If he is invited again, I hope that he would come, with the intention to unite rather than divide.”
The Gingrich remarks about food stamps “is problematic on several fronts, most importantly because he gets his facts wrong,” Jealous said. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture date, more Whites than Blacks receive food-stamp assistance. Whites accounted for 34.4 percent of food-stamp recipients in 2009, compared to Blacks who accounted for 21.4 percent of recipients, according to an October 2010 USDA report.
Gingrich rebutted critics of his remarks Jan. 6, saying that his campaign is targeting the Obama administration and liberal policies. “If you talk openly and honestly about the failure of liberal institutions and the way that they hurt the poor, there becomes a sudden frenzy of a herd of people running over screaming racism, racism.”