A Democratic senator this week said something publicly that many backers of President Obama say privately: Criticism of the health care law is in part racial.
"I'll be able to dig up some e-mails that make part of the Affordable Care Act that doesn't look good — especially from people who made up their mind that they don't want it to work because they don't like the president," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Va.
"Maybe he's of the wrong color, something of that sort," added Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. "I've seen a lot of that and I know a lot of that to be true."
Rockefeller's comments Wednesday drew criticism from committee Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who described efforts to "play the race card" as "very offensive."
Johnson said he doesn't object to the health care law "because of the race of the president. I objected to this because it is an assault on our freedom. Mr. Chairman, I have to admit I have a great deal of respect for you and I'm the only one in the room and I found it very offensive that you would basically imply that I'm a racist because I opposed this law."
National Journal transcribed the exchange between the two senators:
"Johnson added: 'Please don't assume. Don't make implications of what I'm thinking and what I would support. You have no idea.'
"Rockefeller replied: 'I actually do, you know. God help you.'
"Johnson: 'No, senator, God help you for implying I'm a racist.'
"Rockefeller: 'I did not imply you're a racist.'
"Rockefeller then veered into another topic before adjourning the hearing."