Republican candidate Jeb Bush at a town hall campaign stop in Gorham, N.H., Thursday. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
GORHAM, NH – Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Thursday that Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor now running for the president as a Democrat, should not have apologized this week for comments that some activists deemed to be racially insensitive.
O’Malley issued an apology after being booed at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix last weekend when he said, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”
Activists in attendance at the liberal conference felt that O’Malley’s addition to the slogan “black lives matter” of “white lives” and “all lives” was a way of downplaying and belittling the importance of their protests over police brutality and the need for criminal justice reform.
“That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect,” O’Malley said after the event. “I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”
But Bush, after a town hall event here in this north country town where Hillary Clinton marched in a Fourth of July parade a few weeks ago, laughed almost in disbelief when asked by Yahoo News if O’Malley should have apologized.
“No, for crying out loud, no. I mean we’re so uptight and so politically correct now that you apologize for saying lives matter?” Bush said. “Life is precious. It’s a gift from God. It’s one of the most important values that we have.”
“I know in the political context it’s a slogan, I guess, and should he have apologized? No,” Bush continued. “If he believes that white lives matter, which I hope he does, then he shouldn’t apologize to a group that seemed to disagree with it.”
Yahoo News asked Bush why he thought O’Malley was booed by the activists, many of whom were African-American.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t invited to Netroots,” he said.