Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Monday spoke out against Republicans, who he said discriminate against President Barack Obama because he's African-American.
MSNBC's Kasie Hunt asked Rangel, also African-American, whether he believed the president faces Republican opposition because of his race.
“You know, that’s a subjective question," responded Rangel, who faces a tough reelection in Tuesday's primary. "But, let me say this: Are most of the states that they represent, are they in the Confederate states that fought the Union? Were they slaveholder states? And when they come to Washington, do you see more Confederate flags than American flags?”
Rangel suggested the far right opposes Obama's domestic policy just to embarrass the president -- a goal he said is rooted in their prejudice.
“Who would hurt their own people -- in terms of cutting off health, job opportunity, food stamps -- to get after this president? It takes a lot of hatred to hurt yourself just to embarrass the president," Rangel said. "So, I’m trying to think with the tea party -- and basically what they have said and what their spokespeople have said -- this would not be the same if the president was not of color."
Despite Rangel's support for the president, Obama has chosen not to endorse anyone in the race to represent New York's 13th Congressional District, where incumbent Rangel faces a challenge from state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D). Rangel defeated Espaillat in 2012 by fewer than 1,000 votes.
“Like 2010 and 2012, the president will not be endorsing in this race,” Michael Czin, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement. “However, he believes that Mr. Rangel has been and continues to be an advocate for quality, affordable health care, fair wages and opportunity for all his constituents.”
Rangel has received endorsements from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and former President Bill Clinton.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Cuomo and Clinton had endorsed Espaillat.