10:38 pm Oct. 2, 20124
City Councilman Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, defended President Obama against charges that a 2007 speech, which was re-aired by Fox News tonight, was racially divisive.
"I don't think it's race-baiting to say the people of New Orleans were not helped after Katrina," Barron said when reached on his cell phone Tuesday night.
The speech to Hampton University in June of 2007 wasn't exactly a secret, since Obama was already a presidential candidate at the time, and the event was covered by Fox News and other outlets. But a full 40-minute video of the event was recycled today in a primetime apperance by Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News, after it had been teased on conservative clearinghouse the Drudge Report this afternoon. Hannity led the segment with a clip of the president acknowledging his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and described the video as a "bombshell."
Barron called the video's release, and its characterization, "a desperate attempt to save a dying Mitt Romney campaign."
A Romney campaign spokesperson told BuzzFeed they had nothing to do with the video's release.
Barron disagreed with the Daily Caller's description of the video as divisive.
"You think it's racially charged to say they neglected the people of New Orleans because they were black? That's the truth," said Barron. "Black people dying on the roofs of their homes. F.E.M.A. didn't respond the way they should have. To me, that's not a racially charged speech. That is the truth."
Barron was cautious not to push the racial elements of the speech any further than necessary. When I asked if he'd like to see Obama talk more about the topics in the video--the government's response to Katrina, the L.A. riots, Rev. Wright--Barron avoided the topic.
"Right now, to be straight up with you, I am not giving you anything to work with," he told me. "Any concerns I have with Obama, I'm going to raise with him and his staff," he said.
Overall, Barron said the video won't sway many voters, nor change the outcome in November. If anything, Barron said the real revelation lately has not been about Obama.
"Romney has been pathetic," he said, calling the Republican candidate "an embarrassment."
"It's not that he has a bunch of missteps or bad votes or secrets. This is who he is. He's been exposed," said Barron. "Now that America has seen it, he's going to lose because of himself and people see him for what he really, really is."