In an exclusive interview Wednesday on NY1's "Inside City Hall," Congressman Charles Rangel all but called some of the opponents of the health care reform bill racist, comparing them to protestors who fought against the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
"I was involved in the civil rights marches in the '60s. And I have been badgered, cursed at and spat at by groups in the South and I want you to know and your viewing audience to know that the group that were in Washington fighting against the health bill and fighting against the President, looked just like and sounded just like those groups that attacked the civil rights movement in the South," Rangel said.
In his first interview since stepping down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rangel also responded to some of the accusations that forced him to give up the post.
Rangel said he resigned as chairman after he was barraged with Republican attacks and unfair press coverage.
Rangel also says he's confident that he will be vindicated by the House Ethics Committee that’s investigating several charges, including whether Rangel didn’t pay enough taxes.
When asked if he had been assured by House leaders that he would be reinstated to his post, Rangel says he thinks he’ll be back in charge after the ethics probe is complete.
"I don't need assurances from anybody," Rangel said. "I am the former chairman. I am the senior member of the committee. I am a senior member of the House. Once its revealed there is no reason, my committee, the Ways and means committee, didn't think stepping aside was the right thing to do. A lot of Democrats thought I was caving into pressure from Republicans."
When it comes to politics in New York, Rangel says that he does not believe Governor David Paterson should have ended his bid for election to a full term this November.