Dem Senator Rockefeller: Race is "a Part" of Republicans' Opposition to Obama

Rockefeller (who is retiring this year) says it's because of race

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), one of his party’s leading health-care experts, lobbed an accusation this week that most Democrats have only whispered to themselves: some Republicans oppose the new health law because of President Obama’s race.

A retiring senator in his 30th year, Rockefeller made the declaration at an otherwise sleepy committee hearing Wednesday and expanded on the comments Thursday, saying there is an element of prejudice among some Republicans that fuels their opposition to the president.

“It’s only a part,” Rockefeller said of racial elements to the opponents, in an interview with reporters Thursday. “But it is a part of life, and it is a part of American life and world life, and it’s a part of — just a part — of why they oppose absolutely everything that this president does.”

Rockefeller, 76, chose his words carefully after his comments at the Wednesday hearing sparked a fierce reaction from Republicans, particularly Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the only GOP senator at the hearing, who accused the senator of playing the “race card.”

A freshman senator and CEO of a plastics manufacturer, Johnson responded that his opposition to the Affordable Care Act was based entirely on how it revamped the health industry. “I didn’t reject this because of the race of the president,” Johnson proclaimed at the hearing. “I rejected this because it’s an assault on our freedom.”