DOWN SOUTH (CAP) - In an apparent attempt to woo African-American voters away from Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, Republican nominee Sen. John McCain announced this week that he'd received the endorsement of "Little Black Sambo" - a move that Obama described as "offensive for hundreds of different reasons."
At the press conference, however, McCain defended the endorsement, calling Sambo "a hero and an icon to Negro-Americans, and rightly so."
"He also does a mean Mr. Bojangles," he added, then throwing it over to the diminutive dark-faced man, who immediately began tap dancing.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was among dozens of African-American leaders to criticize the endorsement today. "Well, first of all, Little Black Sambo's not even a real person," said Jackson. "He's a character in a children's book from the 1800s whose name has become known as one of the most offensive slurs against blacks in the modern era."
"Plus, that fellow McCain's got playing him - he's not even black!" said Jackson. "That's clearly a white guy in brown face paint - I think it might be Joe Lieberman."
Lieberman, reached later in a congressional bathroom wiping brown shoe polish off his face, characterized the accusation as "meshuggah."
According to McCain, Sambo is much more representative of the issues facing African Americans than is Obama.
"Barack is a good man, but he hasn't faced the challenges Sambo here has faced," said McCain at the press conference, gesturing toward his supporter, who at that point was tap dancing wildly up a flight of stairs with a curly-haired moppet. "Sambo outsmarted a whole pack of tigers once."
McCain explained that his nanny, Beulah, had read the Sambo story to him when he was a child in the 1940s. "Then we'd curl up together in front of the radio and listen to Amos 'n' Andy," recalled McCain wistfully. "I'm truly honored to receive his endorsement here today. By the way, we have chitlins for everybody in the back."
He then opened up the floor for questions, but the press corps just stood there with their pencils at their sides, jaws agape, for a full three minutes before Sambo - apparently sensing the awkwardness - broke into a impromptu rendition of Mammy.
Obama, for his part, recommended McCain reread his much-praised address on race relations in the U.S. He declined to denounce McCain, however, explaining that the Republican senator is from a different era.
"I can no more denounce him than I can denounce my own white grandmother," said Obama, also pointing out that McCain even looks a little like his grandmother, except older and more jowly.
"The fact of the matter is, despite displays like this, the American people are ready for a message of unity," said Obama. "I would comment further, but I've got to keep the Rev. Jeremiah Wright from going to Sen. McCain's house and beating him with a stick."
- CAP News Staff