Rangel: Biden's gaffe was clearly about slavery

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., waits for the elevator as he leaves his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010. AP

AP

(CBS News) Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel says that Vice President Joe Biden's recent remarks that Republicans are "going to put y'all back in chains" were clearly referencing slavery -- and clearly a mistake.

Biden's Aug. 14 remarks to a crowd in Danville, Virginia drew sharp rebukes from Republicans and some Democrats who said he crossed the line.

Romney has vowed "to let the big banks write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street," Biden said in Danville. "They're going to put y'all back in chains."

The Obama campaign dismissed the "faux outrage" and said Biden was simply adopting the metaphor that Republicans first used by saying they wanted to "unshackle" businesses from regulations.

Rangel, however, said in a radio interview with Roberto Perez that the rhetoric was a mistake.

"Was he talking about slavery? You bet your a** he was. Was he using the vernacular? Yes, he was," said Rangel, a longtime New York Democrat who is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. "Did he think it was cute ... Yes, he did. Was it something stupid to say? You bet your life it was stupid."

Rangel added that if an African-American had made the joke, "We would have been laughing, because we would know that deep down, they may be beating the hell out of us but they ain't thinking about putting us into any chains."

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