Cummings says racism partly at play with Obama heckler

Responding to questions about a reporter who interrupted President Barack Obama's immigration address in the Rose Garden on Friday, Rep.Elijah E. Cummings said he expected racism "probably had something to do with it."

In questioning Cummings during a television interview, MSNBC host Martin Bashir drew a line from Friday's incident to what he called "disrespectful behavior" toward U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder, who is also black, has been under fire for months from congressional Republicans over a widening weapons scandal at theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


Here's the exchange:

Bashir: What's your reaction to what's happening here?


Cummings: There has been a disrespect not only for the president but for the office of the present and that is very, very alarming…Our country is better than that. And I think a lot of the same thing is happening with our attorney general. These are two men who are doing an outstanding job but there are folks who just don't like it. And they've never treated other folks like this, but here they are doing it to these gentlemen.

Bashir: Is it because they're both black?

Cummings: I think that probably has something to do with it and I think the other thing it has to do with is that they just purely disagree with their politics. Period.

The interview followed an afternoon address by Obama in which a reporter for the conservative Daily Caller, Neil Munro, interrupted the president mid-speech. The highly unusual move drew a rebuke from Obama and several members of the White House press corps.

Here's that exchange:

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Obama: This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is --

Munro: (Inaudible.)

Obama: -- the right thing to do.


Munro: -- foreigners over American workers.

Obama: Excuse me, sir. It's not time for questions, sir.

Munro: No, you have to take questions.

Obama: Not while I'm speaking.