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Emil Jones: I said delegate was 'doubting Thomas' not 'Uncle Tom'
By Nick Shields and John Patterson | Daily Herald Staff

llinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr.


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Published: 8/25/2008 12:56 PM

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DENVER - Senate President Emil Jones Jr., Barack Obama's political mentor, denied today calling a Hillary Clinton delegate an 'Uncle Tom.'

Chicago political consultant Delmarie Cobb claims Jones used the racially charged slur against her while standing in a hotel lobby and talking to other Illinois politicians over the weekend.

Cobb said it was the latest incident between herself, a loyal Clinton backer, and Jones, a fierce Obama supporter. Both are African American.

She told the Daily Herald she walked away from Jones on Saturday night after he began trying to sell her on Obama. As she walked away, she said Jones yelled across the lobby: "Uncle Tom."

"And I came back and I said: 'What did you say?' And he grabbed me and started laughing. And I said, 'No, no, no. What did you say?' And he wouldn't say anything. And I said, 'Did you just call me an Uncle Tom?' And he didn't say anything. And then I just sort of let him have it. That part I won't repeat what I said."

She said she has no doubts about what Jones said.

As news of the comment spread, there was a collective cringe among Illinois delegates who'd arrived in Denver preaching a unity message on both a local and national level in an effort to move beyond intense internal bickering, not only between Illinois Democratic leaders, but also the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

The accusation threatens to tarnish not only Jones, but Obama as he tries to win over Clinton supporters.

On Monday, Jones offered the explanation that Cobb misheard him.

"She heard the last part of what I said," Jones said following this morning's Illinois delegation breakfast. "I said 'doubting Thomases' - I said 'We don't need anymore doubting Thomases. We all have got to be together.' She misinterpreted what I said."

When asked if he should apologize, Jones said "I can not apologize for something I did not say."