Artur Davis: Biden "in chains" comment "insulting to African-Americans"

FILE - In a Monday Oct. 19, 2009 file photo, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala. gubernatorial candidate, talks to people at a press conference about constitutional reform outside Constitution Village in Huntsville, Al.Barrack Obama's presidential victory offered hope for African-American politicians in the South, where Davis, his Alabama campaign chairman, wasted little time in launching a bid to become the state's first black governor. But he is facing opposition from some unlikely critics _ black leaders who were on the front lines of the civil rights movement. .(AP Photo/The Huntsville Times, Robin Conn, File)
AP Photo
Artur Davis
Former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis.
AP Photo

(CBS News) Artur Davis, a Democrat-turned-Republican former congressman from Alabama, on Wednesday accused Vice President Joe Biden of using racially divisive rhetoric that is "insulting" to African-Americans.

"I know what Joe Biden was doing yesterday," Davis said in an appearance on CNN. "Every black person in that room knew who the 'y'all' was. They knew what the chains were. They knew what the metaphor was about."

In remarks at a campaign event in Virginia Tuesdaywith a number of African-American audience members, the vice president lambasted Romney for allegedly wanting to repeal financial regulations enacted after the Wall Street crash of 2008.

"He's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules - unchain Wall Street!" Biden said. He added: "They're going to put you all back in chains."

Republicans pounced on the remarks. Biden later clarified his comment, stating that he had meant to say "unshackle" in reference to Republican claims that regulations "shackle" the economy.

Davis, who is black, said he was disappointed to hear Biden, "someone I grew up admiring," talk about "one party putting people in chains."

argued that the people in the audience responded negatively to the vice president's "divisive" rhetoric.

"It's a divisive tactic that's insulting to African-Americans. It's insulting to the American people," he said. "President Obama has talked so movingly about our country moving beyond race, and his own vice president makes this kind of comment yesterday? It was wrong. And the president ought to be embarrassed by it."