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. toohip

    Palin is disabled in the sense that she would be unable to perform particular activities relating to foreign policy, domestic policy, economic policy, etc. It may have been a poor choice of words on the part of Rangel, but this candidate is not only incompetent---she has a huge dose of arrogance, ala Cheney, in which she clearly doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. If she did care, she could never have touted her knowlede of foreign policy, by saying she can see Russia from Alaska. The amazing part of this is that a significant sampling of the American people have let her get by with it. Hopefully, this will change-the future of this great country depends on defeating McCain/Palin!

    September 20, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. Bulldog

    Wow, I just read that McCain was quoted just a month ago as saying he wants to deregulate the health care industry just like they have with the banking industry the past decade. Are you kidding me? This man is now lying through his teeth. He was in full support of the deregulation of the banking industry that caused our financial crisis and now all of sudden this week claims he wants to regulate them. McCain clearly is lying and cannot be trusted. He wants to fix HIS OWN mess he personally helped to create? Come on now.

    September 20, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Susan

    It's starting to look like politicians are BS. This years election is 'bashing, insulting, etc.

    We would rather hear what can be done for our country than the rude remarks.

    September 20, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Barney

    why is everybody in alaska avoiding/ignoring legal subpoenas? That's what we DO NOT need more of in the WH.

    She is truth-disabled. Can't speak a word of truth. If that's how christians are supposed to be, forget it !

    September 20, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Donkey or Elephant

    I think it's funny that democrats complain about Palin's experience (or lack thereof) with foreign policy. She's only running for vice president.

    Don't the democrats know that their choice for president has zero foreign policy experience as well? And to boot, how long was he a senator before deciding to organize a presidential exploratory committee?

    I'm an independent voter, and neither candidate intrigues me–but Obama is no more qualified than Palin, and he's running for president.

    September 20, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Belle2

    Rangel is an idiot. Palin is a bimbo. Obama is a sleek snake-oil salesman. Biden is a good man but second on the ticket. I will be praying for McCain's health.

    September 20, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Mike, Syracuse NY

    This piece of crap needs to get flushed down the toilet. Typical Obama supporter, racist, corrupt, and elitist.

    September 20, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Douglas, Los Angeles

    Excuse me, this race is not about Rangel. Besides, Obama and Biden didn't put those words in his mouth.

    This is just another piece of fluff that the Palin/McCain team will use to distract the country away from real issues.

    September 20, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. John Lane

    I checked and the first definition given for "disabled" was "crippled; injured; incapacitated." Certainly she is crippled or incapacitated in her thinking. And it's obvious that he meant it that way, that is, metaphorically. And politicians of both parties (and most people) use such metaphorical expressions all the time. When they speak of a "perfect storm" or a "feeding frenzy" or say that someone is "has blinders on" or any number of other such expressions, it obviously is not meant to be taken literally, but figuratively. The same is true here. Only an idiot would think Rangel was saying Palin was literally disabled, mentally or otherwise. So I wonder what the fuss is all about.

    September 20, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. steven harnack

    look it up in the dictionary; 1) made incapable of use or action.4) legally disqualified.– which she should be due to abuse of power– looks to me like rangel was right on the money!

    September 20, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Brett Evans

    It seems to me that Democrats disagree with Palin's replacement of an official who refused to fire a drunk driving, child abusing COP. This is the democratic party folks....

    September 20, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Alissa in Kansas

    If anyone STILL thinks the MSM is "liberal," they are certainly blind. McCain makes crazy comments regarding the Prime Minister of Spain, distorts like mad, makes racist ads, and doesn't care. Sooo... what does CNN do??? they put up pointless info about someone's poor choice of words and Joe Biden's favorite college football team!!!! WTH!!! How is this important???? Economy in shambles? Oh no big deal!!! But if Biden doesn't like Ohio's team them WHOA!!!! That's news!!! WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! COME ON CNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 20, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Andrew

    I think he should keep his foot in his mouth. Yes bad choice of words that should offend us all. He says a mistake, but not reporting income is tax evasion and that is breaking the law. You can work to lower your taxes with real deductions, but in the end, you will pay Uncle Sam. Now if Obama was in the Whitehouse, he would be paying a lot more. As for the other ethical mistakes, all the people on the hill do them, but he has been making a lot.

    September 20, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. RYAN kr Jr

    I strongly agree with Rep. Rangel. Republicans hate truth and Democrats should not be intimidated to speak. 8years of lies is enough.

    September 20, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Shawn

    She is disabled. Sarah Cheney Palin is NOT ABLE to be President.

    She is not smart enough, honest enough, moral enough or experienced enough to come close to the White House. Thank goodness the bizarre media obsession with her has faded, and she is being exposed for what she is.

    Her favorability ratings have plummeted 17 points into the negatives because the thought of this person being one heartbeat away from the Presidency is absolutely terrifying. Witness Obama's new momentum.

    September 20, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. REP now for DEM

    its true and america is tired of her but no one wants to do a polls simply asking the question who do you think is going to run the country better ?do you beleave Palin has experince to be VP? I was tired of her 1 day after I heard about his Pick because it was seen as trying to pander the female vote and I hope America is smart enough to see it.

    September 20, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Gail AL.

    I don't think anybody will pay much attention to Rangel, he's disabled himself.

    September 20, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Bob Coleman

    This is EXACTLY what is wrong with this party. If we're going to make change, we have to stop the hypocritical framework.

    You can't say that you understand the party's platform while making comments like that. There is just an inherent problem with saying: "Create programs for the disabled, the disabled are people too" and then saying "Palin is disabled because she lacks competence to lead."

    It makes me wonder whether politicians actually care about the poor and disabled, or whether this is the most elaborate ploy- using them to get elected.

    September 20, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Marilyn

    The Democrats are by far the nastiest bunch this year.

    September 20, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. kris

    But she is Politicaly disabled (not answering questions just to mention one) please don't be offended its a true statement. We do not need another disabled person in the white house. Eight is enough.

    September 20, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. leigh

    Rangel hit it right on the money and has the guts to speak what the rest of us have been thinking. Oh and thanks Republicans for the gift of Bush for the last 7 years, that really worked out well.

    September 20, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. dennis from chicago

    o bama needs to co operate with the suit FILED ON HIM FILED 8 22 08 CASE NUMBER 08-CV-4085 FILED IN PENNSYLVANIA check it out we will see how DISABLED obama BECOMES when it is found out he is not a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN//////// the TRUTH HURTS.....coming this OCTOBER at a theater near you///

    September 20, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    "Spare me the phony outrage."

    My favorite quote of this election season is applicable to so many circumstances.

    September 20, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Kristen

    I agree–let's hear about McCain's gaffe where he thought Spain, a NATO ally in Europe and longtime friend of the US, was a hostile enemy from South America. Yeah, it was a poor choice of words, but it was clear that he wasn't meaning it the way the GOP pretend he did. Lipstick on a pig. Meanwhile, McSenile can't remember who Spain is. At least Rangel is facing his problems head on instead of running from them like Ms. Congeneality

    September 20, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Jhan Ganyen

    It's funny how democrats and republicans have a double standard when it comes to words that they use, and what words can be used against them.

    If any republican were to call a dem "disabled," which in context is really meant to say "retard," it's all we'd hear about for two weeks on every major news network, with all you message boarders up in arms.

    But the minute a dem says that to a republican, it's overlooked and even applauded.

    There is no sincerity, honesty, or desire for the greater good in modern politics.

    Terrorists aren't killing America; Americans are killing America.

    September 20, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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