After House Republicans stripped Rep. Steve King (R-IA) of his committee assignments following his open embrace of white supremacy in comments to the New York Times, CNN political commentators Rick Santorum and Van Jones debated the issue on Cuomo Prime Time. Santorum, a former Republican senator who claimed in 2012 that he meant to say “blah” when he said “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” used the segment to declare that the GOP has the better record on race relations.
CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Will the president do a right thing and cut a deal with Democrats? Will he say something about Congressman Steve King in his party? The rest of the party just punished him from spewing racist remarks. POTUS, critics. Let’s try to get some quorum Santorum. Do we all agree your party did the right thing by making a move on Steve king and that the president should say something as well? Do we all agree?
SANTORUM: Yeah. Even if you take the best case scenario, he said it as poorly as anybody could say it and it’s the rightful cause and so the bottom line is the Republican Party did the right thing and hopefully the president will speak out about it. And I hope Steve and his family consider going off and doing something else at this point.
CUOMO: But for the president, he went and met with Steve King. He took the mantle and he learned about the politics of the border and how they worked with the base and he adopted them and Steve King said that. Do you think he’s compromised and therefore quiet?
JONES: I think so. Part of the thing is there’s this bittersweet thing where you want to be joyful because the Republican Party is supposed to be the party of Lincoln. And they do something like this. You have a whole infestation going on in terms of what’s happening in the country. And we all look at different feeds, the algorithms really separate us. When I look at my feed, I see video after video after video of people going up, of white Americans going up to brown-skinned people in supermarkets, in shopping centers telling them to get out of this country. So brown people are living in much more fear. Much more fear of this riding — rising tide of intolerance. I think the Republican Party could do much more to signal to the country it does not like what’s happening and this should be the first step and not the last.
SANTORUM: I don’t know of any leader that has condoned or done anything but condemn and brought to the attention of people doing those things. The idea that the Republican Party has to somehow or another, given its history, versus the Democratic Party’s history on race relations that somehow the Republican Party has to apologize for white supremacists who are, by the way, Democrats for 150 years and Republicans were the majority that voted for the Civil Rights Act. Let’s be clear about which party has a better record on race relations and quit trying to pin all the crazies on the Republican Party.
JONES: You’re reacting to something that I didn’t say. What I’m saying is that, first of all, we have to go all the way back to before I was born to brag on your party on race, that’s a bad sign. Both parties could look back at shameful parts of their history. What I’m saying at this moment when you have Donald Trump, who I believe is a Republican, that wouldn’t even today say that Steve King did something bad and hadn’t seen a television or newspaper or his phone all day — that’s a very bad sign.
SANTORUM: I agree with you.
JONES: When Trump does stuff like that it gives aid and comfort to the worse people that are abusing your party and trying to sneak into your party and try to make it something that it’s not supposed to be. When there’s crazy people doing stuff in my party I speak out. But I do think there’s something happening where this is much more than just a Steve King says something bad. I don’t think a lot of white Americans, you’re not seeing in your feeds the same thing I see in my feed. There’s a much deeper current here and both parties need to do more but because of trump Republicans have more of a burden to continue to speak out as they did today.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.