The Picayune Item reports that Bryant told a Picayune audience on Friday that a vote for Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree is like a vote for Obama and that he made the racially dubious statement that it would "change the complexion" of the 2012 presidential election. Bryant started his attack by bringing up the scariest "L-word" in the conservative lexicon — liberal.
"I shudder when people tell me, 'Phil, you got it made.' What will happen if my opponent is elected is that MSNBC and ABC and all the liberals will be giddy with excitement," Bryant said.
Well, yes sir, this liberal would be quite giddy to see someone with a proven record of economic growth and of presiding over the healthiest city in the state become governor instead of you — someone who has been part of an administration that has maintained the status quo by keeping us last in healthcare and first in poverty. So excuse me if the specter of "giddy liberals" doesn't seem to phase me. But I digress.
"They will say that America loves Obama because his close friend and protégé was elected governor of Mississippi. Think about that; it would change the complexion of the next presidential election."Then, Bryant went on to attack Democratic National Committee Chairperson Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who campaigned for DuPree in Jackson recently. "Have you ever seen or heard her? She is the liberal's liberal," Bryant said. "She makes Nancy Pelosi look like Ronald Reagan." (Because, as we all know, the best way to gauge a female politician is to compare her to another female politician.)
"She said, 'We are going to win this for Mayor DuPree and President Obama, and the road to the White House passes through Mississippi,'" Bryant said. (That's not exactly what she said.) "I want to make sure that we are the first to say no to Obama by saying no to Mayor DuPree."
If I were Bryant, I would be a little more cautious with my wording. And by cautious, I mean I wouldn't say anything that could been perceived as racial. Whether or not Bryant intended there to be any racially charged sentiment in his attacks, it is unwise of a white Republican politician from Mississippi to attack Mississippi's first major party black candidate in modern times by equating him to the first black president. Besides, the comparison leaves much to be desired; when it comes to issues like taxes and abortion, for example, Johnny DuPree has more in common with Bryant than he does with Obama.
And let's face it, warning that DuPree's election might change the complexion of 2012 was just a dumb choice of wording that begs for a racial interpretation. DuPree has run a completely race neutral campaign and it would be smart of Bryant to leave it that way.
DuPree campaign manager Sam Hall refused to respond directly to the negative tactics of the Bryant camp:
"The mayor has said all along that he is not running against anybody. He is running for governor. He is not going to call names and he is not going to sling mud. He's just going to talk about his record of not raising taxes and creating over 6,000 jobs, and he's going to talk about his plans to focus on small business development and restructure our schools."Keep it classy, Phil. The better man for the job sure is. But then again, DuPree actually has something to run on.