At a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation event this evening, per The Hill:
“We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill,” Jackson said at a reception Wednesday night. “You can't vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”
Davis' “no” vote has come in for sharp criticism from his opponent, Ron Sparks, who has pointed out that Artur Davis was the only member of the CBC to vote against HR 3962. Davis said the House leadership approach was “not the best we can do” and the Senate Finance Committee bill “comes closer to achieving the real reform we need.”
Davis referred to Jackson's 1988 run for president in a statement, issued through his office, that said he would not engage Jackson on his criticism.
“One of the reasons that I like and admire Rev. Jesse Jackson is that 21 years ago he inspired the idea that a black politician would not be judged simply as a black leader,” Davis's statement said. “The best way to honor Rev. Jackson's legacy is to decline to engage in an argument with him that begins and ends with race.”
Criticism of the health care vote is fair game; the comment about race is less so, imho. Rev. Jackson endorsed Barack Obama in 2007, although there was a bit of a public tiff in 2008 between Rev. Jackson and his son, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D, IL), over a crude remark the former made about Barack Obama. The really interesting question between now and June 1 will be whether Jackson endorses Davis or Sparks for governor in the Alabama Democratic primary.
Update: The original article from The Hill has been updated with more quotes from members of the CBC and from Rev. Jackson.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) was in the audience. He called Jackson's criticism of Davis “accurate,” but said he did not hear Jackson say “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”
Jackson said later that he “didn't call anybody by name and I won't.”
It still isn't completely clear to me whether Jackson intended the original comment to refer to Davis or whether Davis was just the only CBC member who fit the criteria and whoever reported the comment made the connection and brought his name into it. Too bad there's no video.