After President Obama weighed in on the shooting on Trayvon Martin, the GOP presidential candidates also rushed to condemn the African-American teenager’s death. But Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were equally as quick to blame Obama for making it a racial issue after the president said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Gingrich called Obama’s remark “disgraceful,” and Santorum accused Obama of trying to “drive a wedge in America” by using race.
But on CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the attacks by his fellow Republicans are unhelpful. He told Candy Crowley that, yes, there is a racial aspect to the case, but said that doesn’t mean the president would be insensitive if it had been a white teenager:
GRAHAM: We all know there’s a racial component to this, and when the president highlights it, I don’t think it adds a whole lot. But nobody suggests that the president’s insensitive to the 17-year-old if he’d been white. I think the criticism by our guys was a little off-base.
Graham echoed a White House adviser David Plouffe’s criticism of the GOP candidates. Plouffe called Gingrich’s remarks “reprehensible.” “You can make a decision whether to go out with some shred of dignity or say these irresponsible, reckless things, and he’s clearly chosen the latter path,” he told George Stephonopoulos on ABC’s This Week.