Former Pres. Obama tells crowd in Richmond, Va. that he is distantly related to Jefferson Davis: “I’ll bet he’s spinning in his grave.” pic.twitter.com/2PqBek8vf3
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 19, 2017
Former President Barack Obama remains incredibly popular with
poll data to back up that status, so it’s no surprise that he’s out on the campaign trail stumping for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam. While Obama didn’t mention President Trump or Northam’s Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, by name, it was clear throughout his rally speech who Obama was talking about.
“If you have to win a campaign by dividing people,” Obama said, “you’re not going to be able to govern them. You won’t be able to unite them later if that’s how you start.”
However, one of the highlights of the speech came when Obama segued to the (somehow) still-ongoing debate over whether Confederate statues and monuments should be kept in public spaces. Obama labeled the criticism that Northam is trying to “erase Virginia’s history” as a “distraction.” Obama then touted his distant relationship with former Confederate leader Jefferson Davis as an example of how venerating the Confederacy is silly.
“My father was from Kenya, as you know. Well, some of you know. Some of you may have forgotten,” Obama said. “My mother — you can trace her lineage — and like I’m a eighth or ninth or tenth or something cousin removed from Jefferson Davis who was the head of the Confederacy.”
“I bet he’s spinning in his grave,” Obama joked.
Earlier this week, a magnet school in Mississippi announced it would change its name from Jefferson IB Elementary School to honor President Obama.