John Barrow addresses Richmond County Democratic PartyRep. John Barrow’s attendance at a Democratic rally last week has drawn the vulnerable congressman into a racially charged characterization of the presidential race made by the event’s headliner, the Rev. Joseph Lowery.

Lowery, a famed civil rights campaigner who chaired the Georgia Democratic delegation at the party’s presidential nominating convention earlier this year, said at an Augusta rally that Barack Obama’s race is the singular determining factor in the November contest.

“If Obama was white, there would be no question on who was going to win,” he said, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Barrow addressed the mostly African American crowd before Lowery, though an aide was unable to say whether the congressman, whose schedule that evening included three events, was present for Lowery’s remarks.

When pressed if Barrow took exception to Lowery’s sentiment, though, the spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Lowery and Barrow have previously sparred, most recently over the blue dog’s vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, but his reticence to condemn the plainly racial remarks flummoxed local political strategists.

Top Georgia Republicans would only speak on the condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity, but were upset that Barrow had refused to disavow Lowery’s comments.

“John Barrow wants Georgians to believe that he’ll withstand the crushing weight of Democratic congressional leadership and possibly a reelected president,” one GOP official told Tipsheet, “but he can’t even manage the backbone to condemn shameful racial rhetoric when it’s made within earshot.”

– James Richardson