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MSNBC Panel Paints White Voters as Rejecting Democrats as 'Black Party'

Media Research CenterOn Sunday's Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, as host Harris-Perry led a discussion of what the presidential candidates will need to do to appeal to white voters, panel member and CNBC contributor Keith Boykin asserted that Republicans have "carefully caricatured" the Democratic Party as the "party of black people," and suggested that Americans have been duped into believing that most federal tax dollars are spent to benefit black Americans. Boykin:

The Republican Party has not only caracatured the Democratic Party as the black party, but they've also described government as about black people. So when people think about government, they think about the caricature that Ronald Reagan constructed, the Cadillac-driving welfare queen.

He added:

And they don't realize that two-thirds of the federal budget goes to Medicare and Social Security and national defense and interest on the debt. The amount of money we spend on welfare programs is infinitesimally small for the budget, and the majority of it doesn't even go to black people. But they don't understand that.

Michael Tomasky of Newsweek soon argued that, while white voters are "voting against their own economic interests" in voting for Republicans, white voters instead "perceive their interests as being in a country with guns and without a black President."

Boykin soon jumped back in and added: "They're voting for their racial interests."

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Sunday, June 17, Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC:

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: I want to not assume that white voters - even more than I would assume that Latino or African-American voters - are primarly acting out of racial interests, right? I mean, perhaps they are, but, you know, what are the set of, like, complicated things that a Mitt Romney or a President Obama are going to need to say to make the various complicated groups within whiteness say, "That's the guy who I think can move us into a new future"?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think that white voters are acting out of their racial interests, and I don't think it's just about Barack Obama, though. I worked in the Clinton administration, and I thought that there was this same sort of pattern against Bill Clinton. Not because he was the first black President, but because Bill Clinton represented a Democratic Party which the Republican Party has carefully caricatured as the party of black people, regardless of who is the President or who's the figurehead.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

BOYKIN: The Republican Party has not only caracatured the Democratic Party as the black party-

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

BOYKIN: -but they've also described government as about black people. So when people think about government, they think about the caricature that Ronald Reagan constructed, the Cadillac-driving welfare queen.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right.

BOYKIN: And they don't realize that two-thirds of the federal budget goes to Medicare and Social Security and national defense and interest on the debt. The amount of money we spend on welfare programs is infinitesimally small for the budget, and the majority  of it doesn't even go to black people. But they don't understand that.

(...)

MICHAEL TOMASKY, NEWSWEEK: I don't even bother to say anymore people are voting against their own economic interests. Well, you know, they perceive their interests differently, then, you know. They perceive their interests as being in a country with guns and without a black President. That's how they perceive.

BOYKIN: Those are not economic interests.

TOMASKY: I know they're not.

BOYKIN: When you have people like Sheldon Adelson, who's giving $35 million to the Republican Party candidates, and, at the same time, you have white voters in West Virginia who are voting for Republicans who have no money or virtually no money, there's a disconnect because they're connecting to a party that's about millionaires and billionaires, even though they're never going to be millionaires and billionaires. What else is that but voting against their economic interests?

TOMASKY: Well, but they're voting for their arms-bearing-

BOYKIN: They're voting for their racial interests.

-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center