RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The nation's first elected black governor, Virginia's L. Douglas Wilder, lambasted Vice President Joe Biden on national television Wednesday for his remark to a largely black crowd about banks keeping people "in chains."
Wilder, a Democrat and a grandson of slaves, echoed indignant denunciations from Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, that Biden's comment at a Tuesday rally in Danville, Va., injected race into the presidential contest.
In warning that the Republican ticket would roll back President Barack Obama's regulations reining in banks and investment firms after the 2008 stock market meltdown, Biden said Romney intended to "unchain Wall Street."
Then, Biden added, "they're going to put y'all back in chains."
Romney fired back Wednesday, saying Obama's re-election campaign "is all about division and attack and hatred." Obama's campaign called Romney's response "unhinged."
Wilder, known within his own party for an independent streak that sometimes borders on contrarian, was interviewed separately by Fox News and later CNN.
"Without question they were appeals to race," Wilder told CNN. "And if you don't argue with that, then you understand that, then the next question is why? Why do you feel you need to do that? But the more important thing that I got out of this was Biden separated himself from what he accused the people of doing. As a matter of fact what he said is, they are going to do something to y'all, not to me, not us. So he was still involved with that separate America. And I'm sick and tired of being considered something other than an American."
Wilder also said he doesn't believe Obama would associate himself with, nor make, the remarks that Biden made.