Rangel calls Palin 'disabled'

September 20, 2008 3:04:15 PM PDT
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., already in trouble for tax problems, called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "disabled" on Friday, and then quickly retreated and said he misspoke, saying he meant "disadvantaged."Republicans called it a new low for the 78-year-old chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Asked during an interview with New York's WCBS-2 television why Democrats seem afraid of Palin's popularity, Rangel replied: "You got to be kind to the disabled."

The reporter repeated the phrase.

"Yes," replied Rangel and then added, "There's no question about it. Politically it's a nightmare to think that a person's foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live."

Soon after the interview aired, Rangel said in a statement that he meant to say "disadvantaged."

"Governor Palin is an obviously healthy person who in no way fits the description of disabled. I meant to say then, and I am saying now, that she entered the campaign with a disadvantage in the area of foreign policy," said Rangel.

Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said of Rangel's remark: "As if achieving new ethical lows was not sufficient, now Rangel is hitting a rhetorical low. Insulting the next vice president will not distract from Rangel's tax scandals."

Rangel for weeks has been embroiled in controversy over his failure to report taxes on income from a beach house, use of three rent-stabilized apartments in his home district of Harlem, and using official stationery to try to drum up private donations for a college center named after the congressman. On Friday he reporting paying $10,800 in back taxes and said in an open letter to constituents that Republicans were waging a "guerrilla war" against him.


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