At the end of the committee hearing Wednesday, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, preached that Republicans who oppose Obamacare do so for racial reasons. He complained that the opposition comes "from people who’ve made up their mind that they don’t want it to work, because they don’t like the president. Maybe he’s of the wrong color, something of that sort." The only Republican remaining in the room, Ron Johnson (R-WI) let Rockefeller know in no uncertain terms that he objected to the use of the race card, blasting, "God help you for implying I’m a racist because I oppose this health care.”
During the committee meeting Rockefeller opined:
It’s very important to take a long view at what’s going on here. And I’ll be able to dig up some emails that make part of the Affordable Care Act that doesn’t look good, especially from people who have made up their mind that they don’t want it to work. Because they don’t like the president, maybe he’s of the wrong color. Something of that sort. I’ve seen a lot of that and I know a lot of that to be true. It’s not something you’re meant to talk about in public, but it’s something I’m talking about in public because that is very true.
Rockefeller continued with the committee proceedings for another ten minutes while Johnson stewed. Finally, when it was his turn to question a witness, the Wisconsin senator decided to begin by speaking out against the Democrat’s claim that Obamacare opposition is race-based:
I didn’t object to this because of the race of the president. I objected to this because it is an assault on our freedom. And Mr. Chairman, I have to admit, I have a great deal of respect for you, but I’m the only one in the room, and I found it very offensive that you would basically imply that I’m a racist because I oppose this health care law. That is outrageous.
Rockefeller replied with another charge contending that Johnson wants the American people to return to the “totally free enterprise” health-care system before the Affordable Care Act, making Johnson even angrier:
You are assuming the wrong thing, Mr. Chairman. You’ve implied that I’m a racist. Now you’re saying [I want] to go back to a failed health care system? Please don’t assume, don’t make implications of what I’m thinking and what I would really support. You have no idea.
"I actually do. And, you know, God help you,” Rockefeller replied.
“No, senator, God help you for implying I’m a racist because I oppose this health care,” Johnson said. “I was called a racist. I think most people would lose their temper, Mr. Chairman.”
The race card is a favorite of Rockefeller's; on May 6th at a Senate Finance Committee meeting he made a similar claim:
It’s an American characteristic that you don’t do anything which displeases the voters, because you always have to get reelected here. I understand part of it. It has to do with — for some, it’s just we don’t want anything good to happen under this president, because he’s the wrong color.