Democrats jumped on South Carolina state Rep. Kris Crawford (R) this week after his vote against Medicaid expansion, helping to bring attention to racially charged comments he made on the issue in January.
In a January interview with the Charleston Regional Business Journal, Crawford explained that he -- unlike many of his Republican colleagues -- supported the measure to expand Medicaid eligibility under President Barack Obama's health care law. But Crawford predicted that he would be a dissenting voice in his party, suggesting that his fellow Republicans knew they would benefit from opposing Obama, in part because of race.
“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy," Crawford said. "It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party."
The comment didn't get much pickup until Tuesday, when it came time for the state House to vote on the Medicaid expansion bill. Crawford, a onetime proponent of the effort, voted with his party to reject it.
South Carolina Democrats quickly blasted Crawford's reversal, calling it a sign that he was willing to play into the racially charged motivations that he had earlier accused his colleagues of following.
"Obviously Rep. Crawford let politics overwhelm policy and agreed with his own comment 'it is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now,'" said Amanda Loveday, executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party, according to St. Andrews Patch. "This wasn't about race; this was about 44,000 new jobs, over a billion dollars pumped into our economy and health insurance for 250,000 more South Carolinians."