September 20th, 2008
01:15 PM ET
10 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. Drier

    Both CNN and Obama are "disabled." Oh, did I forget to mention Congress which is controlled by the democrats? I suppose their 15% approval rating is W's and "McSames" fault as well.

    September 20, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. christopher

    OK, OK.... Rangel should have been politically correct and called her intellecutally chanllenged. Palin makes Dan Quayle look like Albert Einstein.

    September 20, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. Nick

    We need more democrats to speak up and call McCain/Palin out. I don't necessarily agree with calling her disabled, but they need to attack more-if she is worthy and could be (heaven forbid) President of the United States she will have to handle this sort of criticism in the what's the difference now?

    September 20, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Kipp Watson

    As a person with disabilities, I am deeply offended that Governor Palin is described as disabled. She, after all, is the one responsible for cutting the Alaskan budget for the Special Olympics by 50% and she doesn't support the Community Choice Act, which is critically needed by the disabled community.

    September 20, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. josephine

    disabled enough not to be able to present her income tax return unlike the other 3 candidates. oh maybe she is in the process of having it doctored so it would look more presentable with no illegalities. maybe she is just being underestimated.

    September 20, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Carolyn

    Well CNN. He only spoke the truth!!!!!! She's not only a disabled prop, she is conmpletely whacko!!!

    September 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. K

    You know, I notice most of the personal attacks on Gov Palin on this blog are by women...usually attacking her intelligence and/or appearance. That's very sad...jealousy is a very pathetic and unattractive quality, you low-life bloggers.

    Amy in Minn...I wish you many "Disable (your grammatical error) and Challenged" (your capitalization errors, also)...mentally...(OK) children and grandchildren. You deserve it!

    September 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. James

    Charlie owed 10, 800 dollars. Sure was trying to get rich, huh?

    September 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Memnoch

    That's an insult to disabled people.

    Decisiveness, hubris, and self-satisfied ignorance are not admirable qualities in anyone.

    Spread the word.

    September 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Atlian

    And who said Obama doesn't have foreign policy experience? Her serves on the FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE and has met with foreign leaders whle Sarah can see Russia from her house!

    September 20, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Tyree,LV-Independent

    He Is Right, She Is Disabled In Foriegn Policy.
    I Don't See Anything Wrong With This.

    September 20, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Silence Dogood

    Making fun of disabled, women, age. This all seems OK when your Great One leader sets a bad example of campaign behavior and acting above the rules.

    September 20, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. William E. Gordon, Sr.

    Rangel is a tax criminal-he is no better then those serving time for tax evasion. He should be brother before a judge for his tax problem and criminally charged-other in his boat would go to jail

    September 20, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Wal-Mart Mom, Terre Haute, In

    Charlie is on his way to Levenworth for tax evasion and perhaps tax fraud. The best thing his Democratic supporters could send him would be a jar of personal lubricant which he'll need when the bad boys up there make him their toy--

    Former Obama Supporter

    September 20, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. Barbara Wallace



    September 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Kathy

    I was planning to NOT vote in this presidential election (which would be a first for me) because I don't think either McCain or Obama would make a good president. I was not at all happy about McCain's choice of Palin as a running mate. Why would anyone would choose a running mate who is being investigated for an ethics issue? However, after reading about Palin's Alaska comment, I've decided that I'm going to vote for Obama. I'd rather have his experience in the office rather than Palin's idiocy.

    September 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. undecided voter

    one thing is fure, democrats have so much hatred..look at all the comments posted. it's sad that they have to attack not just other peoples ideas and values, but then they go to a new low and make personal attacks.

    September 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. James

    Why doesn't CNN tell the whole Charlie Rangel story? If you're going to smear him, you should balance it out by telling what an American hero he is. Unlike McCain, he is a real hero, one who doesn't talk and BS about it all the time.

    September 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Sarah

    Rangel and what he said is the evidence that the corrupt in Washington are getting scared about what Palin has to say about reform. She's a threat. Whereas Obama and his "change" isn't quite so frightening. It's welcomed.
    Palin should be thrilled that she's got the corrupt trembling.

    September 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Anne

    With all the illegal, unethical and criminal charges flying at Rangel, he should just keep his mouth shut. Before it is over Rangel you will bring race to center stage in this campaign. Geraldine Ferraro's statements are being more pertinent each and every day with the likes of Rangel. If only Hilliary was the nominee.

    September 20, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Mike from Calgary

    I don't like Charlie Rangel for lots of reasons, but this CRITICISM IS JUST PLAIN SILLY AND SMALL-MINDED. Any fair-minded person would understand his remarks in context – a mean spirited partisan or a racist would choose to ignore the obvious intent conveyed by the tenor of his remarks.

    What strikes me is that he paid up the tax levied – even though it relates to dealings in another country. Do AMericans pay tax in the Dominican Republic or is there no reciprocity in international affairs involving the US? GUESS NOT – USA RENEGED ON FREE TRADE AGREEMENT AND WOULD NOT HONOUR WTA DECISIONS AGAINST USA which favoured CANADA.

    I remember US asking why people throughout the world hate the USA? Good Question? Do Americans know the answer to their own question?

    If Rangel and other Americans pay tax on foreign income, why is the US National Debt so immense ... and growing so quickly? Anybody read "THE THREE TRILION DOLLAR WAR" about the war in Iraq to neutralize the non-existent WMDs? Why the continuing focus on Iraq, rather than the real battle in Afghanistan!

    September 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Ryan

    the Economy_is _strong September 20th, 2008 1:33 pm ET

    Hey from my appartment, i can see planes flying in the sky….
    Does that makes me a pilot?
    Hey I can see the University from my front porch.......
    Can i be a proffessor??

    September 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Mark G

    Dipstick/Lipstick Mcsame and company. Charlie had a context slipup. The truth is there is no truth and fear with the repugs AGAIN

    September 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Kathy

    I meant to say: I'd rather have Obama's inexperience in the office rather than Palin's idiocy.

    September 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. Peter Vaguely

    "Disabled" is a poor choice of words. How about "lame-o" or "goof-ball?"
    Just asking.

    September 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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