Lewis on McCain’s politics of hate and fear

Civil rights icon and Georgia congressman John Lewis is accusing John McCain and Sarah Palin of stoking hate, likening the atmosphere at Republican campaign events to those featuring George Wallace, the segregationist former governor of Alabama and presidential candidate.

“What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history,” Lewis said in a statement issued today for Politico’s Arena forum. “Sen. McCain and Gov. 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,” Lewis noted. “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. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.”

Senator Obama’s response:

“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.

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