Bad day for Ellison as he has two horrible TV interviews about Farrakhan and Israel statements.
Things just keep getting worse for Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison in his quest to become Democratic National Committee Chair. Today only brought more bad news for Ellison.
Ellison’s past decade-long support for Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, his suggestion of dual loyalty from American Jews when speaking at a fundraiser for Muslim leaders, and his cozy relationship with some of the worst pro-BDS, anti-Israel groups, has disrupted what seemed like a clear trajectory to DNC Chair.
And then Obama-Biden sent signals they were encouraging Labor Secretary Tom Perez to seek the position.
The accumulation of controversies threatened Ellison’s DNC bid with a political death spiral.
That spiral got no relief today, as Ellison continued to try to defend his Farrakhan days by accusing those who uncovered his history of a “smear” campaign.
Real Clear Politics reports on Ellison’s appearance on Morning Joe, Keith Ellison: Media Smearing Me With Louis Farrakhan Connection; “This Is About Distracting People”
Candidate for DNC Chair, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, defended himself from charges of anti-semitism on Wednesday morning’s ‘Morning Joe.’
He called reports of his connection to controversial black minister Louis Farrakhan “bad reporting,” and a distraction. Ellison is being accused of anti-semitism because he praised Farrakhan for organizing the Million Man March in a 1995 op-ed.
“I have a ten year record in Congress,” he said. “It is just that kind of reporting that is not quality and doesn’t help people understand the real issues.”
“What does he have to do with anything going on in this race?” Ellison asked about Farrakhan. “Absolutely nothing.”
“We’re talking about something that happened in 1995. This is a year when the Million Man March took off — people were attacking it. I was very proud to be a part of it. But here I am having to answer questions about this, and I’m not talking about what our country needs to do and what the Democratic Party needs to do, because of this smear campaign from 20 years ago.”
“This is about distracting people and taking people away from the issues at hand,” he said.
Not good. Apologize, but don’t accuse others of a smear campaign when the facts of Ellison’s history are so demonstrable.
Then Ellison made the problem even worse by again making the claim that Israel uses American Jews to do its bidding, as he did in a 2010 fundraiser for Muslim leaders. Chris Cuomo wondered, during the interview, why he was singling out American Jews.
Combined with Ellison’s current coziness with anti-Israel groups, it again raised a troubling aspect of his life.
RCP again has the report and video, Ellison: Israel Has Used Our Democratic System “To Advance Their Policy Views” (emphasis added);
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), candidate for DNC chairman, talks to CNN’s Chris Cuomo about Israel and the Jewish community “using our democratic system to advance their policy views.”
“I was talking to a group of people who asked me how they could look at the Jewish community as a model for political empowerment,” Ellison said….
Transcript, via CNN:
CHRIS CUOMO: ….you gave a speech in 2010 where you said that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what’s good or bad for a country of 7 million people which people take to mean Israel. And that this was seen as you having a hostility toward the U.S. relationship with Israel, and that you were turning a blind eye to the value of that relationship, and you were favoring the Arabs essentially over the Jews.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D-MN), CANDIDATE FOR DNC CHAIR: No, absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I was talking to a group of people who asked me how they could look at the Jewish community as a model for political empowerment. In fact, I’ve been to Israel seven times, voted for bilateral aid to Israel to the tune of $27 billion. And I have supported Israel’s U.S. joint defense pact over time.
But I’ll tell you this, there’s a lot of people around the world and around our country who look to the Jewish community as a community that has used this democratic system order to offer its policy ideas, and that’s the question that was posed to me. But —
CUOMO: What does that mean? Because who doesn’t use the system to advance its own agenda? That’s what people do, that’s what constituencies are.
ELLISON: Well, Chris, of course. But, some people in our country, they might be immigrant groups, they might be new Americans, they don’t know how to use the system as well and want to learn how to use it. Want to learn how to be effective in lobbying, and in working with our U.S. system.
There’s nothing wrong with any group of Americans using our democratic system in order to advance their policy views. And if some groups like, you know — there’s various groups that are effective. I mean, this is something that this is a skill that should be developed, and strengthened, and people who are more successful should be looked to — towards as models.
This, this statement that I made had absolutely nothing to do with what you’re suggesting. Actually it was more about saying, how do people who want to know, how to work with Congress, how to work with members of Congress, how do they learn to do that better. That’s what that was all about.
CUOMO: The criticism is out there. I’m giving you the opportunity to respond to it. That’s the job and I appreciate you taking the opportunity to do so, Congressman Ellison.
And just tonight it was announced that Perez will announce tomorrow that he’s seeking the DNC Chair:
Labor Sec. Tom Perez will formally declare his candidacy for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee on Thursday, according to a source familiar with his plans.
He’ll do so on a conference call hosted by state party chairs supportive of his candidacy, the same source says. NBC News reported Tuesday that Perez planned to enter the race, which has so far been dominated by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, this week….
Encouraged by the Obama White House and others, Perez has bided his time entering the race as he sussed out support among the roughly 450 members of the DNC and from other party leaders across the country.
Top Democrats uneasy with Ellison have been privately offering their support and encouragement to Perez, who has been closely following the leadership race while also considering a gubernatorial run in his home state of Maryland.
The pressure campaign may have worked. Perez has been working the phones aggressively in recent days is said to be eager to get his message out before politicking slows for the holidays. as Wednesday
Perez’ entry would set up a heavyweight bout between two progressives of color who each hail from different sides of the Democratic Party’s establishment-outsider divide. Ellison was a loyal Bernie Sanders supporter in the presidential primary, while Perez was a vocal Hillary Clinton backer.
Ellison’s DNC Chair chances aren’t down the drain yet, he still has backing from the Bernie faction of the party, but he’s definitely circling the drain.