ICYMI: Jackson backs off criticism of Davis
The Rev. Jesse Jackson struck a conciliatory tone after he verbally revoked U.S. Rep. Artur Davis' status as a black man this week.
Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor, was the only member of the caucus who voted against the health care bill.
Nevertheless, Jackson's remarks proved valuable ammunition for state Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks, also a Democratic candidate for governor. The Sparks camp has been working to ensure that the people of Alabama in general and Davis' congressional constituents in Birmingham in particular don't forget how the congressman voted.
An e-mail with a link to the article containing Jackson's remarks went out to a large network of potential Democratic voters within the hour of hitting the Internet.
Recognizing the impact his words might have had on Davis' historic attempt to become Alabama’s first black governor, Jackson toned down his rhetoric.
"I talked to Congressman Artur Davis today to assure him of my abiding admiration of him as a leader who is engaged in a huge challenge," Jackson said in a statement. "I offer no challenge to his integrity as a leader."
Jackson went on to say in the statement that representatives should vote their conscience in the interest of their constituency. But he also noted that there is a growing disparity among the black and poor of the country.
"We desperately need voices and votes," he said. "Among the black and the poor, the infant mortality rate is higher, life expectancy is shorter, poverty is growing and unemployment is highest."