Elverson, PA – After Congressman Jim Gerlach’s campaign has continued to claim that Manan Trivedi, Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, plays the “race card” by receiving donations from Indian Americans, Trivedi made the following statement:
“Last week, Congressman Gerlach’s campaign was quoted making racially-charged comments that were offensive and insensitive about my campaign and its supporters. Many of the congressman’s own colleagues called on him to apologize for his staffer’s comments or fire the man responsible. Instead of dealing with the issue head-on and then putting it behind him, the congressman has decided to hide in silence while allowing his official spokesman to continue giving comment after comment doubling down on these racially-charged statements.
“The fact is, Gerlach’s spokesman stated that ‘The only one who has played the race card here is him [Manan Trivedi], by going to Indian-American groups to raise money.’ [The Hill, 09/03/2010]. Given his silence and the fact that his campaign continues to release statements furthering these charges, it is clear that the congressman himself approves this statement.
“No less an authority on race in politics than the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and special assistant to the president on civil rights, Harris Wofford, stated that ‘His [Congressman Gerlach’s] campaign is deliberately using rhetoric that sounds like the kind of coded language we’ve seen too often from other campaigns trying to exploit the issue of race for political gain.’ Wofford continued, ‘After weeks of just such coded messages by the Gerlach campaign, it is time to call them on it.’
“Congressman Gerlach has apparently learned every dirty trick in the Washington politician’s playbook and is making a name for himself as a basement-level prevaricator. Again and again he has put words in my mouth. First, he lied and said that I wasn’t born in this district. Then he lied again when he said I wasn’t raised in the 6th District. And then he lied yet again when he said that I was voluntarily away from home while stationed around the country and in Iraq as a battalion surgeon in the United States Navy.
“Congressman Gerlach, while you were safely down in Washington collecting a paycheck in Congress, I was walking into Iraq with Marines willing to risk their lives for our democracy. You seem to have confused tossing around childish insults about individuals and ethnic groups with real bravery.”
Manan Trivedi is the Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District. He is a primary care physician, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, and an Iraq War veteran from Berks County.
Background and recent statements from elected leaders:
– On 09/03/2010, Mark Campbell, Congressman Gerlach’s spokesman, was quoted in The Hill saying:
“The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money.” [“Indian-American candidates concerned about racial intolerance,” The Hill, 09/03/2010]
– On 09/04/2010, Former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford released the following statement:
“I was concerned to learn about the recent racially-charged comments coming from Congressman Jim Gerlach’s campaign. His campaign is deliberately using rhetoric that sounds like the kind of coded language we’ve seen too often from other campaigns trying to exploit the issue of race for political gain. While our nation has made real progress towards moving beyond its racial divisions, it is appalling to see what is a thinly disguised effort to focus voters on Manan Trivedi’s Indian heritage.
“It is wrong for the Gerlach campaign to dismiss these concerns given our nation’s political history — as recently as the 2008 presidential election — where insidious phrases like “He doesn’t share our values” are used to convey double meanings. Such taglines from the Gerlach campaign are readily translated to mean “He’s not one of us.” After weeks of just such coded messages by the Gerlach campaign, it is time to call them on it. It is bizarre for the Gerlach campaign to charge that Dr. Trivedi has played “the race card” because he has raised funds from members of the Indian-American community. That charge itself is a clumsy attempt to emphasize that Dr. Trivedi is an Indian American.
“This kind of cynical politics is not worthy of the people who live in Pennsylvania’s 6th District. We can disagree honestly on policy and battle fiercely over issues, but there should be no place in our politics for tactics that are transparently geared to play on voters fears and divide us over race and ethnic background.”
– On 09/03/2010, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released the following statement from DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer:
“It is outrageous for Jim Gerlach to say that raising money from any particular community is akin to playing the “race card.” Jim Gerlach’s decision to use this kind of rhetoric to attack Manan Trivedi represents the worst kind of politics. Jim Gerlach needs to immediately apologize for these racially insensitive sentiments.”
– On 09/03/2010, U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“Congressman Gerlach’s campaign’s statements are offensive to everyone, these are American citizens who want to play an active part in the democratic process and they support Manan Trivedi because they believe in his candidacy. Is it playing the race card when I fundraise in the Jewish community? Would he call it “playing the race card” when Italian-Americans give to Italian-American candidates, or Irish-Americans to Irish-American candidates? If this person were on my staff I would fire him and/or Congressman Gerlach should fire this person and/or Congressman Gerlach should apologize.”
– On 09/03/2010, U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz released the following statement:
“Like many others, I was appalled at the racially insensitive comment made by the Gerlach campaign. What is worse though, is that Congressman Gerlach has remained silent, neither refuting the statement or taking appropriate action regarding his staff.
“Jim Gerlach has clearly lost touch with our area if he thinks that these racially insensitive comments are going to help him win him this election. People rightfully should expect their Representatives to encourage greater participation of all Americans in the democratic process, as voters, volunteers, and supporters. Jim Gerlach should immediately refute his campaign’s racially insensitive comments towards Indian Americans and take appropriate action regarding his staff.”
– On 09/03/2010, U.S. Representative Mike Honda released the following statement:
“Congressman Gerlach must apologize for suggesting that political fundraising within an ethnic community is somehow illegitimate. Our great democracy promises many fundamental freedoms, not the least of which are the freedoms of speech and association, coupled with the right to equally participate in our electoral process. American citizens — of all ethnicities, races, and creeds — have the freedom to support those whom we believe will best represent us in the House of Representatives, in which I proudly serve as chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Asian Americans are currently underrepresented in Congress and I am honored to support Manan Trivedi. Manan’s leadership in Congress would strengthen our democracy by making our leaders and policies more reflective of our nation’s true diversity.”
– On 09/04/2010, Pennsylvania State Representative Josh Shapiro released the following statement:
“Congressman Gerlach’s campaign’s statement is exactly the kind of divisive, insensitive, and ethnic-baiting brand of politics that should be completely out-of-bounds in our political discourse. Like myself, many Americans support Manan Trivedi’s candidacy because they believe in him and what he will fight for in Congress. The congressman knows better and ought to immediately condemn his staffer’s inappropriate remarks.”