- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2014

Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller suggested during a Senate hearing that his Republican colleague, Sen. Ron Johnson, opposed Obamacare primarily because President Obama was black.

Mr. Rockefeller’s exact words, as he chaired a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday, were that the Wisconsin Republican didn’t care for Obamacare because Mr Obama was the “wrong color,” Politico reported.

Mr. Johnson was reportedly the only Republican in the room when Mr. Rockefeller made the remarks. And he responded, Politico reported: “It was regrettable, and I would say it was offensive … that you would play the race card. That you would say that opposition to Obamacare necessarily must stream from some inherent racism? Very offensive. Listen, my opposition to health care has nothing to do with the race of President Obama. It is the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime.”

This is the second time in just a few weeks that Mr. Rockefeller — who’s due to retire from office — has slammed Republicans with the racist tag for opposing Obamacare, Politico reported. In a previous transportation hearing, he said that Republicans don’t want to see any good legislation pass under Mr. Obama’s administration “because he’s the wrong color.”

Mr. Rockefeller tried to backtrack from his comments about Mr. Johnson, and said later during the same hearing that he didn’t call Mr. Johnson a racist, Politico reported.

But Mr. Johnson didn’t accept the explanation.

“No senator, God help you for implying I’m a racist because I oppose this health care,” Mr. Johnson said, Politico reported. “I was called a racist. I think most people would lose their temper, Mr. Chairman.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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