WASHINGTON -- Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) isn't backing down from controversial comments he made last week about Rev. Jesse Jackson -- instead, he's ramping them up.
"All Jesse Jackson is trying to do is to keep African Americans down on some plantation," he said on the "Big John & Amy" radio show Friday, as reported by Chicagoist.
Walsh came under fire from Democrats earlier this week for telling constituents that the party wants Hispanics and African Americans to be dependent on government. He said Jackson, a civil rights leader, wants the same thing.
"Jesse Jackson would be out of work if [African Americans] weren't dependent on government," he said at a town hall meeting last week.
Tammy Duckworth, his Democratic opponent, quickly responded to the remarks. Duckworth said in a statement that Walsh's comments about Hispanics and African Americans were "insensitive." She went on to say that "Congressman Walsh’s remarks are not only offensive, they are especially irresponsible coming from a sitting member of Congress."
Jackson also responded, telling the Associated Press that Walsh seemed to be attempting to "incite and polarize" voters. The reverend said that the majority of Americans receiving aid for the government are not non-whites and added that he has devoted his life to gaining equal protection under the law for "all vulnerable Americans."
One of the radio hosts echoed that statement on Friday, telling Walsh that "groups are still being discriminated against ... all Jesse Jackson is trying to do is gain equal protection under the law."
Walsh disagreed, although he conceded that he does not know Jackson personally:
Amy, I know enough of the man to know that if African Americans -- how come Jesse Jackson opposes school choice for inner city African American parents? How come he won't give that ability to low-income black parents? Because he doesn't want blacks, African Americans to escape miserable public schools.He won't give them that opportunity. Why? Because he wants them dependent and imprisoned in terrible public schools in the inner city.
He went on to say "this really has nothing to do with race," but repeated his comments from last week that Democrats "want people dependent on government."
"Once you're dependent on government, you'll continue to vote for the party of government," he told the radio hosts.
A spokesman for Jackson did not respond to a request for comment on Walsh's Friday remarks by time of publication.
Listen to Walsh on the "Big John & Amy" radio show on WIND 560-AM.
Nate Willis contributed reporting.
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