By ERICA WERNER
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Republican congressman from Alabama says Democrats are engaged in a "war on whites."
Congressman Mo Brooks made his comment on conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham's program on Monday. He said the Democratic Party claims white people hate everyone else and that it's part of President Barack Obama's strategy of dividing people on the basis of race, sex and class.
The remarks came in a discussion of immigration legislation passed last week by the House that could result in increased deportations.
Brooks was responding to analysis saying that the Republican Party risks losing any appeal to Latino voters and will not be able to be successful in a national race if it appeals only to white voters.
"This is a part of the war on whites that's being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they are launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else," said Brooks. "It's a part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued it in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, creed, envy, class warfare - all those kinds of things."
Brooks defended his comments in a phone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press and disputed the suggestion they were incendiary. He said that Democrats were the ones being incendiary, pointing to comments including an assertion by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi this year that the GOP's failure to act on comprehensive immigration legislation had something to do with race.
"Race should not be an issue in public policy debates, we should be colorblind, we should be the melting pot," Brooks told The AP. "But so long as the Democrats have a political campaign strategy to divide Americans based on skin pigmentation then they are the ones who are fanning the fires and doing a disservice to our country, not those who try to hold the Democrats accountable for what is a very counterproductive and sinister campaign tactic."
Congress is beginning a five-week summer recess.