Will Paul Ryan Condemn Racist GOP Colleague Who Invoked Him As Potential ‘Great White Hope’?

Notorious Racist Reference Used to Rally Republicans Against President Obama

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MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) of Janesville has yet to condemn the racist remarks of fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins from Kansas, who cited Ryan as a potential “great white hope” to defeat the agenda of President Barack Obama.

“All of Wisconsin hopes that Rep. Paul Ryan will quickly condemn this racist comment from his Republican colleague,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now. “Real leadership requires nothing less.”

At a recent public event, Republican Jenkins said, “Republicans are struggling right now to find the ‘great white hope.’ …I suggest to any of you who are concerned about that, who are Republican, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington.” She then named a handful of her fellow Republicans by name, including Ryan.

The phrase used in reference to Ryan’s future leadership is a century-old slur meant to rally whites against Jack Johnson, the world’s first African American boxing champion. Johnson was later charged, found guilty and sentenced by a white prosecutor and white jury to prison for violation of the Mann Act in transporting a white woman across state lines “for immoral purposes.”

“Republicans have launched an unprecedented vicious partisan attack to stop President Obama’s agenda for health insurance reform,” said Ross. “They have sat back and even encouraged supporters to continue calling the President ‘Hitler’ and questioning his citizenship. This ugliness has to end.”

Ryan previously refused to condemn Republican Party de facto leader Rush Limbaugh, who earlier this month compared Democrats to the Nazi Party during World War II.

“It might have been too much to expect Paul Ryan to stand up to Boss Limbaugh,” said Ross. “Perhaps a first-term fellow Republican Congressperson is low enough on the food chain that Ryan can set aside his partisanship for just a day and condemn this shameful racism.”

Video of Jenkins’ racist statement is available at: http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/ryangreatwhitehope

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One Wisconsin Now specializes in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.