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. Chris

    I don't care how you feel about Palin, Rangel's choice of words was just plain wrong. People with disabilities make up the LARGEST and most under represented minority. I wonder if he had said "You got to be kind to the New Yorkers" and meant it as an insult would you all jump on his bandwagon then?

    September 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. Mary MS

    I totally agree with Rangle, she and McCain are witless.

    September 20, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. Dea Baldwin

    Obama has my vote . Charlie I know what you meant... It is so true

    September 20, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Paul Macheski

    You just have to look and listen to Charlie and you know why Washington is broken. I would rather be disadvantaged than dishonest.

    September 20, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Eric-29-m-PA

    What about Obama? What foreign policy experience does he have? None!!!!! He's just as experienced as Palin. Wake up people!

    September 20, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Rodham Democrat

    It's Gov. Palin who's parading her family on the national stage and what seems to me like exploiting her Down Syndrome child for sympathy...

    September 20, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  7. JoNell

    I think there are enough problems for the politicians to discuss without this stupid, childish bickering especially the republicans. The because I can see Russia so therefore I have international experience is really dumb along with all the other lies they are telling. She must have taken lessons from Cheney about how to be vice president.

    September 20, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. SeattleVoter

    Yes, he did not properly choose his words wisely; however, this does not in any way hide the fact that Palin's claim to her experience to be VP is as follows...

    – She can see Russia from her home which qualifies her for foreign relations.
    – She has pumped gas into her own car and can turn on a light switch which qualifies her as an energy expert.
    – She has managed her personal checkbook which qualifies her for managing worlld economics.
    – She knows how to use a rifle with pinpoint accuracy so she is qualified to run the military.
    – She has driven a car so she knows about transporation.
    – Her high school friend sites her love of cows as a child which qualifies her to run the agricultural department in Alaska.
    – She's had a job so she is qualified to fix the unemployment problems facing so many Americans.

    Sarah Palin is not qualified.. period! Perhaps Hagel should have simply said, "Govenor Palin is a puppet." He would have spoken the truth and the republicans couldn't have said a thing to negate the comment.

    September 20, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Bandido

    The disabled insult only shows part of his ignorance. He should have credited SNL with the “I can see Russia” comment. What a doofus. I think this dirt bag is mentally disabled. He makes the tax laws then expects us to believe he doesn’t understand them.

    September 20, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. Ryan

    We need to see Palin on CNN and other television stations answering questions from the press.
    For the first time in history a VP, who could be the next woman president of the United States, is refusing to answer questions from the press. No one seems to bother.

    September 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. soapmanx

    Rangel is clearly an idiot. And this is coming from a life-long Democrat.

    September 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. Amy-TX

    Look at all you pathetic democrats shooting your mouth off trying to take down Gov. Palin. You can't accept the fact that the WOMAN is qualified to be the next Vice President of the United States. I have never seen such jealousy before in my life. Democrats you had your chance with Hiliary but your "Chosen One" decided to pick Joe Biden. Your negativity and the trashing of Hillary Clinton might have worked to secure Obama as the Democratic candidate but it won't work when the American people get to pick in the general election. It's funny how the liberals are supposed to be in support of women but you have to follow their rules and they only apply if your a democrat and then a woman. Way to set us back a few years with women's rights DEMOCRATS. I AM A WOMAN AND A PROUD REPUBLICAN. I thank God every day for Gov. Palin and what she has done and will do for the future of our country. So bring it on democrats we'll see who has the last laugh. VOTE MCCAIN/PALIN GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! Hopefully CNN will publish this.
    AMY-from the great state of TEXAS!

    September 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Eleanor

    She is not disabled BUt she is incredibly inexperienced at everything
    ITs almost beyond pathetic when the vp pick is more popular than the republican candidate for president!!!!
    but her star is fading fast every time she opens her mouth!!
    The fools who would vote for these two need to remember
    Its for the highest office in the land PRESIDENT!!!!
    These two are just more of the same ...MORE BUSH for another 4
    Take the stars out of your eyes!!!
    Vote for someone who wants to change things and make the office
    about YOU for a change

    September 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Mike, Syracuse NY

    It's amazing how many Omamites are defending Rangel. It's scum like him who are the cause of our problems. It's truely sad that so many Americans have fallen under the Obama hypnotic spell. HE HAS DONE NOTHING. If Plain is unqualified, then a person without a single instance of business, military, or government leadership experience is doubly so. WHAT HAS HE RUN BESIDES HIS MOUTH?

    September 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. James

    Charlie Rangel IS an expert on foreign policy. If he's scared by Palin, we should all be scared by Palin. I bet most of you who run him down don't know any more about Rangel than you knew about Palin a month ago.

    September 20, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. pete

    its just another distraction by the sleazy republicans. not a day goes by when they attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill. as for ms palin, seeing russia from her house amounts to absolutely nothing in term of foreign relations, to think other than that would in iself, "retarded".

    September 20, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. Debby

    Hey Charlie your Messiah hasn't even come up with a plan yet with all those 10 advisors on stage with him yesterday so who is the disabled one here.

    September 20, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Soccer Mom, Columbus

    Dems. keep underestimating Sarah Palin– they made the same mistake in Alaska when she won as Mayor, won as Governor, and then was chosen as VP candidate for the Rep. Party--she did all this while raising 5 kids and by the age of 44-

    This is the kind of woman we want as a model for our daughters-underestimate her at your own peril-

    Sarah Palin 12 & 16'

    September 20, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Gary Chandler in Canada

    The Russians have responded to her comment about seeing Russia from her home.
    They can HEAR her from their homes!

    September 20, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Ron Bennett Surprise AZ

    I would go one step further by claiming the whole Republican Party disabled themselves by their actions over the past 8 years.

    George Bush II gave 500 billion dollars a year tax break to the rich when he got into office and now is giving them another 1.5 trillion more of the tax payer’s money to try to fix his past mistakes.

    I told friends when Bush got elected that he almost bankrupted his fathers three business while his father was president now he is going to bankrupt our country. I hate the idea of being right because the future of civilization may be at stake.

    “Those who fail to remember the past are doomed to relive it.” It is the Republicans who historically lead us into a great depression through their “over-exuberance.” The only thing Bush got going for him now is he has some smart people in key post that do remember the great depression such as Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who is finally trying to fix the “over-exuberance” of the past, it may be too late.

    We have tens of thousands of nuclear bombs now; we didn't have one before the first great depression. What scares me the most is my latest thought, if another great depression happens around the world this time around it could be followed by WW III a war that will finally end all wars and most of the worlds human life forms.

    In other words, we could finally cause ourselves to become extinct.

    September 20, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. Agnes

    all I hear from republicans is complaining, and the rest of the headlines the mess they created and left for us to deal with..... enough already... you

    time for Democrats and all of us to fix the country not some phony politics

    September 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. alex badme, albuquerque

    Rangell should know disabled as he is mentally disabled. I'd love to vote for O'Bama but seeing his team of Wrangells, Pelosi, Reid and other incompetants on the same team is just too much risk for me

    September 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. jmo

    Here's the real problem people: you have an old white man and an old black man, and when you get to be their ages, you tend to use an incorrect word or two, have "senior" moments, and sometimes stare like a deer in headlights when faced with something new. I don't see where there's a story here, unless you want to pick on the elderly.

    September 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. mitchell

    republicans think she is the messiah-ette.

    September 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. Comment

    CNN, why does Sarah Palin keep referring to McCain's and her administration as Palin/McCain's administration, I thought the presidential nominee came first. Is this some type of campaign strategy?

    September 20, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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