Mary Landrieu blames racism for Obama's unpopularity in Louisiana

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana

Story highlights

  • Sen. Mary Landrieu argued the president has a hard time in the South because of his race
  • The Louisiana Democrat also argued that the region is tough for women
  • Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called her comments "remarkably divisive"
Asked Thursday why President Barack Obama has a hard time in Louisiana -- where his approval rating hovers around 40% -- Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu said a big reason has to do with his race.
"I'll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans," Landrieu told NBC News' Chuck Todd. "It's been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader."
The three-term senator, who's fighting for her political survival in a tough contest this fall, said the South can also be hard for women "to present themselves."
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"It's more of a conservative place. So we've had to work a little bit harder on that, but you know, the people trust me, I believe. Really they do," she said. "Trust me to do the right thing for the state."
The "number one" reason for Obama's unpopularity, she said, was the moratorium by the Obama administration on off-shore drilling following the BP oil spill in 2010.
"Our state was furious about that," said Landrieu, who's the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. "When you shut down the whole gulf of Mexico it puts a lot of people here at risk and out of business."
Responding to her comments, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal furiously called her answer "remarkably divisive."
"That is a major insult by Senator Landrieu to the people of Louisiana and I flatly reject it," he said Thursday on Twitter. "Obama's policies, which Mary supports, are unpopular here, and the other 49 states, because they are ill advised, liberal, and don't work."
"His administration has also proven to be incompetent. Trying to blame it on race is ridiculous," he added.
James Varney, an editorial writer at The Times-Picayune noted that Landrieu "declined to explain how she has been elected three times as a senator by such a collection of unwashed knuckle draggers."