September 20th, 2008
01:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Rangel takes heat for 'disabled' comment

Rangel is facing criticism over calling Sarah Palin 'disabled.'
Rangel is facing criticism over calling Sarah Palin 'disabled.'

(CNN) - Rep. Charlie Rangel, the longtime House Democrat already mired in possible ethics violations, is facing a new round of fire Saturday after describing Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin as "disabled."

Interviewed by New York television station WCBS Friday evening, the powerful New York congressman was asked why Democrats appear "afraid" of Palin.

"You got to be kind to the disabled," Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, responded in an answer the reporter interviewing him later called "astonishing."

Rangel later repeated the comment, adding, "There's no question about it - Politically it's a nightmare to think that a person's foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live."

Republicans, who have already been highly critical of Rangel over his failure to report taxes on income from his Dominican Republic beach house, are seizing on the comments.

"As if achieving new ethical lows was not sufficient, now Rangel is hitting a rhetorical low. Insulting the next vice president will not distract from Rangel's tax scandals," Republican National Committee Spokesman Alex Conant said.

Rangel reported paying $10,800 in back taxes Friday, according to the Associated Press, and complained that Republicans were waging a "guerrilla war" against him.

Shortly after the interview aired Friday night, Rangel issued a statement say his words were "misinterpreted."

"Sometimes in the heat of a political campaign you choose words that can be misinterpreted," he said. "Governor Palin is an obviously healthy person who in no way fits the description of disabled. I meant to say then, and I am saying now, that she entered the campaign with a disadvantage in the area of foreign policy."

Rangel was a supporter of Hillary Clinton's White House bid, but endorsed Obama immediately after the last round of primary contests in June.


Filed under: Charlie Rangel • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (359 Responses)
  1. Elizabeth

    Why would people listen to Charles anyway? He wants to have the military draft again and he talks out two sides his mouth. I'm not surprised he said something stupid, but I'm still voting democrat.

    You aren't disabled if you vote for McCain, you are just ignorant.

    Elizabeth in Texas

    September 20, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. huckychby

    Why do we here about a one work slip-up, but noting about Mccain's several sentence bashing of Spain?

    September 20, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Robert Wooller, West Yorkshire England

    Who will Sarah Palin not get offended at? Yes, Palin, I could get offended at you because you eat moose, go hunting and are part of the NRA and you are for global warming and drilling in the arctic refuge. As for Obama being ahead in the polls, this is great news and I hope he keeps up the great work. Take the swing states as well as the Obama States.

    Obama-Biden 2008

    September 20, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. Last Honest Man

    Before all the sick democrats on this Ticker agree with Rangels, he is what is wrong with DC.

    September 20, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. Amy in Minneapolis

    Disable and Challenged, she is mentally!!!

    September 20, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. Tainopower

    keep attacking palin will not help you she does have more experience the obama and Biden combine. and that scare the democrats. and yes rangel you are mentally disable.

    September 20, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. huckychby

    Why do we hear about a one word slip-up, but nothing about Mccain's several sentence bashing of Spain?

    September 20, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. Cheryl

    Poor choice of words but certainly honest in that the distinguished Governor Air-Head does appear to meet the definition of mentally and certainly morally deficient.

    September 20, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. What's the Problem?

    Six rinky dink colleges in five years and still can't pronounce "nuclear". I'd say Mr. Rangel is correct!

    September 20, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Chris from NY

    While Rangel may not have described Palin very well in his speech, you cannot say that Palin's case in Alaska is any less serious than Rangel's. The difference though, is the fact that Rangel is facing his demons head on while Palin is masking hers while still trying to look good to the public. Americans are no so dumb to buy into what McCain's camp is trying to sell to the American public. I might be wrong on that after all they elected George Bush twice in to office.

    September 20, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. David

    His "disabled" comment was given BECAUSE he said she had foreign policy adviser SIMPLY due to the fact that she can see Russia from her state. It's obvious he didn't mean anything bad about it... just the fact that this lady is supremely unqualified to the VP.

    September 20, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. soccer moms for obama

    i totally agree with rangel.

    barbie doll is disabled in more ways than possible.

    americans wake up.
    no more mcbush and his barbie doll palin.

    obama 08

    September 20, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. facts are facts

    McCain on banking and health
    OK, a correspondent directs me to John McCain’s article, Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American, in the Sept./Oct. issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. You might want to be seated before reading this.
    Here’s what McCain has to say about the wonders of market-based health reform:
    Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
    So McCain, who now poses as the scourge of Wall Street, was praising financial deregulation like 10 seconds ago — and promising that if we marketize health care, it will perform as well as the financial industry!

    September 20, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  14. David

    Well, she's definitely "truth-disabled", in the sense that she seems to be capable only of telling lie after lie, even after being caught red-handed.

    September 20, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. Scott Tucson

    First off.. is not saying democrat and ethic violations in the same sentence an oxymoron? Anyways, I love it!... Democratic officials such as Rangel never have any qualms about raising OUR taxes, they just have a hard time paying their own. They're even cheap when it comes to donating to charities, folks do a little research and you will see that is true.

    September 20, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Curtis

    This political contest is not about Charlie Rangel!!! But I will say I DO AGREE!!!

    September 20, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Another Non-Story CNN Story

    Who cares! While people are losing their jobs, homes, savings and future, this is considered news? Why attack someone for speaking the truth?

    Face it folks. She's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She couldn't even answer the single, simple question that was asked in Grand Rapids, MI.

    The debate between her and Biden will be the car wreck of the century not to be missed.

    September 20, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Dumb choice of words

    NOT "PC" choice of words, but the sentiment that somehow Palin is confused / misinformed / disadvantaged / damaged / incompetent because she thinks proximity to Russia is "foreign policy experience" is straight talk.

    Now if she told us she'd negotiated an exchange of moosemeat for borscht with a Russian diplomat, that would be different...

    Palin can be forgiven for her hubris, McCain can't be forgiven for his poor choice of VP.

    September 20, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. Rick Sutter

    Why is this bufoon still in office?

    September 20, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. Liz

    Dumb comment, but not as dumb as McCain's that: "We should treat health care reform like we have handled the Financial Industry for the last ten years." This is an article written by McCain for an Actuarial magazine THIS MONTH!!! Yea, deregulate the insurance industry–that's worked so well for the financial industry!!!

    September 20, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. Larry-Minn.

    To late ,to little , engage brain before putting mouth in motion. First words are usually the words meant, and making excuses wont change that.

    September 20, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. nellie

    Charlie Rangel needs to also retire. I am going to take up for his misstatements like everyone seems to do for McCain" what he meant to say was"

    September 20, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. jack

    We know what you meant to say Charlie, better put Sarah is politically challenged.

    September 20, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. OhPlease!

    She's only disabled from telling the truth, EVER!! That's what Charlie meant!

    September 20, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. ex-Hillary backer for OBAMA

    IF PALIN CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT.....

    AH, ISN'T THIS LADY SUPPOSED TO BE A "BARRACUDA"?? DEAL WITH IT!

    September 20, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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