Jenkins: `Great white hope' remark not about Obama
Rep. Lynn Jenkins made a comment in a videotape saying Republicans are looking for a "great white hope", most people were confused thinking that she was implying that someone should challenge President Barack Obama or his agenda. She finally clarified on thursday that she was making a comment about GOP leaders in the House and was trying to reassure Republicans that the party has bright leaders there.
She used the phrase during an Aug. 19 forum in Hiawatha and someone in the crowd recorded it and gave the video to the Kansas Democratic Party.
Basically the phrase "great white hope" was taken out of context. When an african american boxer, Jack Johnson, got the heavyweight title in the early 20th century. At the time "great white hope" was implying that there should be a white fighter to take the heavyweight title away from Johnson.
The boxer's story inspired a play, then a movie, with that title, both starring James Earl Jones.
Jenkins said she wasn't aware that the phrase had a negative connotation. She noted that she used it when answering a question from an audience member who began by noting the GOP's success in taking control of Congress in 1994 after drafting a "Contract with America."
Rep. Lynn Jenkins commented afterwards "I got a question one day from someone regarding the future House leadership. I made a reference to him not giving up hope, that we had some great bright leaders in our future," she said. "I apologize if anyone misunderstood my intent."
Tyler Longpine, a spokesman for the Kansas Democratic Party, called Jenkins' comment "a poor choice of words" but said he doesn't think it was anything more than that.
He said a Democratic Party supporter shot the video at the Hiawatha forum and shared it with the state party.
"The thing that kind of strikes me was the partisan tone of it all," Longpine said. "If she'd stick to talking about policy rather than politics, she could have kept her foot out of her mouth."