Artur Davis responds to Jesse Jackson comment

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Ala. Congressman Artur Davis responded Thursday to comments made by Rev. Jesse Jackson, a day after the civil rights activist criticized Davis for voting against the health care bill.

FOX6 News spoke with Davis Thursday, saying, "I admire him as a leader who is engaged in a huge challenge."

Alex Goepfert, a spokesman for Davis' gubernatorial campaign, later released the following statement from Davis: "One of the reasons that I like and admire Rev. Jesse Jackson is that 21 years ago he inspired the idea that a black politician would not be judged simply as a black leader.  The best way to honor Rev. Jackson's legacy is to decline to engage in an argument with him that begins and ends with race."

Wednesday, The Hill newspaper reported Jackson told members of the Congressional Black Caucus: "We even have blacks voting against the health care bill. You can't vote against health care and call yourself a black man." Davis was the only member of the house Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the health care plan.

Thursday, though, Jackson said he called the Alabama gubernatorial candidate to "assure him of my abiding admiration" as reported on

"I offer no challenge to his integrity as a leader," Jackson said in the report. "Representatives should all vote their conscience in the interest of their constituency."