October 16, 2009 10:53:52 AM PDT
A Kansas legislator promised Friday that he'll repost his "RedNeck Rap" video criticizing President Barack Obama on YouTube, while a national civil rights group assailed the video as racist. Republican state Rep. Bill Otto said he'll add a new beginning to the video, explaining that the cap he's wearing in the video -- calling opossum "the other dark meat" -- is a reference to his own redneck heritage, not Obama.

Otto posted the video on YouTube last month, but it came down Thursday after a fellow legislator called it as "disturbing" and suggested it was evidence of bigotry. Otto said the criticism is unfounded.

He said his adult daughters took the video down, using his passwords, because they didn't like him being called a racist. He said he told them that taking the video down made his situation worse.

"People are going to think that this was done by people to shut me up," Otto said in a telephone interview from his home in LeRoy, a small town about 75 miles south of Topeka. "I'm getting hate e-mails from Maryland to California, but, hey, that's part of the game."

Heidi Beirich, research director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, saw Otto's video as part of ongoing criticism of the nation's first black president that is "racially tinged." The center, based in Montgomery, Ala., monitors hate groups and saw more than 200 reports of hate crimes in the weeks following Obama's election.

"It's totally racially insensitive," she said.

The flap over Otto's video also comes less than two months after U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, another Kansas Republican, remarked in a public forum that the GOP was still looking for "a great white hope." She later said she wasn't referring to Obama and didn't know of the phrase's past link to pre-civil-rights era racism.

Otto said he wanted to repost the video because he believes it's important to raise issues about Obama's policies. In his rap, he criticizes Obama over health care, the environment, the economy and Obama's plans to close the prison for terrorist detainees in Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

Otto, first elected to the Legislature in 2004, has posted videos on YouTube for about 18 months. Some feature footage from events in his eastern Kansas district, but he uses others to comment on issues -- sometimes in song.

Earlier this year, he poked fun at then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' impending departure for Obama's Cabinet with a parody of a country song that ended with the chorus, "You picked a fine time to leave us, Kathleen."

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