By Bill O'Reilly
The conservative Daily Caller web site released a full tape of then Senator Obama speaking to a group of black ministers at Hampton University in Virginia back in 2007. Playing to that crowd, Mr. Obama brought up unfairness in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He cited the Stafford Act, which requires areas that receive federal assistance to pay 10 percent of what they use.
However, when Florida was hit by Hurricane Andrew and New York City by the terror attack on 9/11, the Stafford Act was waived. But in New Orleans, after Katrina, President Bush waived the Act for just 60 days angering Mr. Obama and others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act. Said this is too serious a problem. We can't expect New York City to rebuild on its own, forget that... that dollar you've got to put in. Well here is $10 dollars and that was the right thing to do.
When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said look at this devastation. We don't expect to you come up with your own money here. Here is the money to rebuild. We're not going to wait for you to scratch it together because you are part of the American family.
What's happening down in New Orleans? Where is your dollar? Where is your Stafford Act money? It makes no sense. It tells me the bullet hasn't been taken out. It tells me that somehow the people down in New Orleans, they don't care about as much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Now, when Mr. Obama refers to the people down in New Orleans, he is obviously referring to African-Americans and "taking the bullet out" is racial code. Thereby, Mr. Obama injected race into the debate. By the way, in the end New Orleans might not have paid anything under the Stafford Act. The situation is so muddled, it's hard to know.
As always you decide the validity of Mr. Obama's comments. But here is the key question tonight. Should Mitt Romney refer to that race tape in order to demonstrate how the President is being divisive? The Governor might also point to a speech Mr. Obama gave in 2002 when he went after wealthy Americans.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OBAMA: I don't know if you've noticed, but rich people are all for nonviolence. Why wouldn't they be? They've got what they want. They want to make sure people don't take their stuff.
But the principle of empathy recognizes that there are more subtle forms of violence to which we are answerable. The spirit of empathy condemns not only the use of fire hoses and attack dogs to keep people down but also accountants and tax loopholes to keep people down.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Now, that speech was at the University of Chicago on Martin Luther King Day. Mr. Obama framing his argument that day around the Enron debacle where working Americans got hosed by corporate gangsters. But once again the President used class warfare to make his points and he's right. The rich don't want people to take their stuff because the government has no right to do that.
Today, the Obama campaign lashed out against the Katrina criticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN LABOLT, OBAMA CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Mitt Romney's allies in a desperate attempt to change the subject from a video in which Mitt Romney wrote off half of the American people are circulating a video that was covered by the campaign Press Corps at that time.
I've got to tell you, if the Romney campaign thinks that this was what Americans are looking for tonight in place of plans for the middle class, they are in for a surprise.
BILL HEMMER, FNC HOST: So you are saying this speech is no big deal then?
LABOLT: Well, I don't think anybody thinks that the government's response to Katrina was sufficient.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: But it's not about Katrina. It's about how you frame your criticisms. Again, you can decide whether the President's rhetoric is acceptable or not. But again, the key question becomes would it be smart for Mitt Romney to bring all this up in the debate tonight.
You know President Obama is going to hammer the Governor over his 47 percent remark. His campaign just did that. So you know that's going to happen again tonight.
So "Talking Points" believes Mr. Romney should, should point out that Mr. Obama has used divisive rhetoric along race and class lines. That is true. Mr. Obama has done that. Now will Americans respond to that kind of stuff? Some will. But the casual voter may chalk it up to politics as usual, SOS Same Old Stuff.
Both Obama and Romney were speaking to the choir when they made their controversial statements. They were whipping up their crowd. Many Romney supporters resent the fact that the nanny state is growing stronger in America. And the Obama supporters resent the fact that wealthy Americans have so much power.
On the race front, polls show more than 90 percent of African-Americans continue to support the President and truth be told he has not used race while governing this country. But there is no question that in that Virginia speech, he did say that black Americans in New Orleans were treated badly simply because they were black. The problem for Mr. Obama is that's debatable. It's not a fact unless you're Spike Lee.
The presidential debate this evening should be a passionate display. Governor Romney has to call out President Obama on the weak economy, the muddled foreign situation and the class warfare campaign. Let me repeat, the Governor has to do that in very vivid terms. And when that happens, the President will lash back pinning Romney as ruthless rich guy who wants to exploit working Americans. I can't imagine Romney is going to take that without a stinging come back.
So this exposition tonight has the potential to be rowdy. And you know what; I want to see that. I want to see these guys go after each other. Because they're so dramatically apart in belief systems that every American should understand the huge gap. The pressure is on Mitt Romney tonight but he has plenty, plenty of verbal ammunition. In less than an hour, we'll see if he uses it.
And that's "The Memo."
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