Rep. John Lewis accuses McCain of racist attacks

Georgia Rep. John Lewis accused the McCain campaign of stoking racial fires and fanning the racial hatred from supporters at McCain/Palin rallies around the country. The basis for Lewis’ remarks seem to be the discussion Obama’s ties to William Aryes and Gov. Sarah Palin’s claim that Obama was “palling around with terrorists” in Chicago.

Report from Fox News:

Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights-era icon , invoked segregationist Gov. George Wallace of Alabama in accusing John McCain and Sarah Palin of fanning the flames of hatred at Republican campaign events.

“What I am seeing reminds me of too much of another destructive period in American history,” Lewis said in a statement released to FOX News. “Senator McCain and Governor Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.”

“George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights,” Lewis added. “Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.”

He then accused McCain and Palin of “playing with fire” in a way that “disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy.”

McCain immediately responded, calling on Obama to denounce Lewis’ statement.

“Congressman John Lewis’ comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale,” McCain said in a written statement. “The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama’s record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign.”

Obama’s campaign has responded and has somewhat condemned Lewis’ comparisons, via First Read:

“Senator Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies.

But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee for President of the United States ‘pals around with terrorists.’

As Barack Obama has said himself, the last thing we need from either party is the kind of angry, divisive rhetoric that tears us apart at a time of crisis when we desperately need to come together.

That is the kind of campaign Senator Obama will continue to run in the weeks ahead,” said Obama-Biden spokesman Bill Burton.

Take from it what you will, this campaign is going to all over the place in the next few weeks and I expect accusations from both sides to be reaching, at best.