Angry Colorado Republican party leaders are lining up in support of a state senator who claimed at an August hearing that poverty is higher among the “Black race” because they eat too much chicken — and a state representative who pointedly showed off a box of Popeye’s chicken in what many interpreted as a gesture of support. To signal their displeasure with the state GOP chairman, who has spoken out against the racist actions of those in his own party, a group reportedly plans to bring boxed chicken lunches to the state party’s meeting in Denver this Saturday.
According to the Denver Post, members of the state party committee circulated an email calling for the censure of party chairman Ryan Call for his comments criticizing the original comments and the Popeye’s stunt. Ken Clark, a right-wing radio host and state field director for the Tea Party group FreedomWorks, told the Post that he may have proposed the idea of bringing chicken to Saturday’s meeting. “I get awful tired of Ryan Call throwing good, hard working Republicans under the bus,” he complained, adding, “I think he’s a squish, a jellyfish. He’s got no backbone.”
The controversy began at an August 21 meeting of the state’s Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force. State Sen. Vicki Marble (R) delivered a long monologue claiming that “there are problems in the black race,” stemming from the barbecued chicken so common “when you go down south.” She added the Mexican Americans abandon their healthy vegetable-based diets when they come to the United States, making them fat — though a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report in July found that obesity levels are actually higher in Mexico than any other country. Chairman Call criticized her comments as “careless” and not reflective of the views of Republicans — but also noted that, “careless is not racist.”
Two weeks later, at the next meeting of the task force, Rep. Lori Saine (R) placed her open box of Popeye’s chicken on the table on the dais, in full view of the audience. A KDVR report cited an unnamed witness claiming Saine told Marble that the chicken was a “silent protest” of the flap that followed her earlier comments. Asked by a reporter about the gesture and the “silent protest” comments, Saine snickered, said she was “having chicken for dinner,” and refused to make any other statement. Later that evening, she tweeted a photo of the chicken she claimed she and her daughter would be eating for dinner. Call blasted Saine’s actions as “insensitive and hurtful,” and said they “do not represent the Colorado Republican party.” He demanded she apologize.
Call dismissed the criticisms by Clark and other activists, saying, “It is unfortunate that a few individuals are working to create division and undermine our Party and Republican candidates instead of uniting to win in 2014.”