(CNN) - A North Carolina congressman locked in a tight re-election race admitted Tuesday to recently telling a crowd of John McCain supporters that "liberals hate real Americans," the latest in a string of comments from Republicans that appear to question Democrats' patriotism.
Rep. Robin Hayes, a five-term Republican who has been heavily targeted by Democrats this election cycle, first denied making the remarks, but conceded Monday afternoon that he was accurately quoted.
"After reading it, there is no doubt that it came out completely the wrong way," Hayes said. “I actually was trying to work to keep the crowd as respectful as possible, so this is definitely not what I intended."
The comments came at a McCain rally in Concord, North Carolina Saturday before the Arizona senator or members of his staff had arrived at the event. As first reported by the New York Observer, Hayes said, "Liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."
Hayes also told the raucous crowd to make sure "we don't say something stupid, make sure we don't say something we don't mean," warning the news media would likely distort such remarks.
In his statement Tuesday, Hayes suggested he meant to differentiate between the liberal and conservative philosophies rather than directly impugn the patriotism of his opponents.
"Liberals are advocating higher taxes, which I believe punish success - and they are advocating policies like gay marriage that I feel undermine strong families," he said. "We have a strong difference of opinion about the future of our nation, but obviously this was the wrong way to get that difference of opinion across."
Hayes is top target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and his prospects of re-election appear to be endangered by Obama's stronger than expected support in North Carolina. According to Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report, Obama is out-polling McCain by 9 points in Hayes' 8th district, a dynamic that could spell trouble for Hayes come Election Day. In 2004, President Bush defeated John Kerry by 9 points in Hayes' district and the GOP congressman narrowly won in 2006.
Hayes' comments echo those of other Republicans in recent days that have drawn fire from Democratic circles. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said late last week she's concerned Barack Obama “may have anti-American views,” and suggested other liberal members of Congress also may be anti-American.
"The news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look," she said. "I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"
Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin also drew fire from Democrats earlier this week when she suggested at a recent GOP fundraiser that she only likes to travel to "Pro-America parts of this great nation."
"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation," she said.
In an interview with CNN Thursday, Palin apologized if her comments were interpreted to mean some areas of the country are more patriotic than others.
"I don't want that misunderstood," Palin said. "If that's the way it came across, I apologize."
McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer also turned heads when she said over the weekend that Northern Virginia, did not represent 'real Virginia' because of the influx of Democrats to the region in recent years.
“I certainly agree that northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. And as a proud resident of Oakton, Virginia I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia. And that’s really what you see there. But the rest of the state, ‘real’ Virginia if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message," she said.
People google PNAC and john mccain and make sure your sitting down.
so much for his chances. where do i donate?
I am speechless. Without speech.
I hope he does not win his re-election. The divisiveness of the Republicans is over the top. Enough!
NC voters .... please kick this guy out!!!
He spoke the truth and the truth hurts but the Liberals' agenda hurts more.
He said it and he meant it. Then he got caught...just like Larry Craig.
Hayes, you are Fired
This is absolutely disgusting to say that as a liberal I hate my country. If anything its the conservatives that hate America because when our country was founded, the founding fathers instilled some of the most LIBERAL policies of that day. This whole notion that some Americans are more patriotic than others is the most UN-PATRIOTIC thing one can speak of!!!!!!! The Republicans and John McCain's campaign is just disgusting. I dont know who in their sane mind would vote for any of them!!!!
Obama Biden 2008!!!!!!!!
Wake up America! These people are the terrorists among us. Let them know we won't stand for this anymore. VOTE OBAMA!
Disgusting. That's all I can say, (that's an understatement)! I'm a moderate Democrat and I am offended by the statement.
So typical, " I said it but......." But hell. You said it, you meant it, and you don't believe Senator Obama is a "American." Just be honest so you can stop representing people you don't "really" care about. Just like Sarah Palin, speaks outlandishly then backtracks. Whatever!
Wow, if that's what you say when you are trying to keep a crowd respectful, what exactly do you say when you are trying to incite them??? These republicans are scarier than I ever even imagined.
This is sad that we haev belittle ourselves to name calling and not focus on the issues....
Palin needs to stop encouraging hate...
I guess this means I'm full of self-loathing for my job, achievements and faith.
They can't help themselves. The ignorant.
I applaud their courage for actually speaking their minds.
All this will do is bring about even more change.
It will be nice when one sunny day, amendments will be made to the hate crime bill so that more of these type of people will pay the price for their divisiveness.
We have far to go, but we'll get there.
Another old republican nut!
This Is Why Democrats Need To Get To 60 Senate Seats And Obama/Biden Need To Win The General Election.
Typical of this campaign. McCain's side can't stand on the merit of his policy and ideas, so his minions imply (or say right out) that anyone who opposes or has different ideas is unpatriotic. That kind of garbage is something America does NOT need. Haven't we had enough of that with Bush?
Hate is such a nasty thing. The McCain campaign has turned really ugly.
I'm confused, why did all of these "real" Americans get upset when Osama BinLadin bombed un-american cities like NYC?
I really think they want to start another Civil War or something. And yes, I do think they are that misguided.
No – perhaps they just don't like dishonesty and twisting facts and throwing stones – "He who is without sin – cast the first stone" – a very good thought and not given much credence by those who profess they follow the speaker of these words! OBAMA/BIDEN 2008.
Robin Hayes, Sarah Palin, John McCain, most of the GOP, and most members of the McCain campaign are terrorists by the dictionary definition of the word.
Just another example of Republican stupidity and devisiveness. What a moron!!!!!
Talebans think the same of people that disagree with them!
Just a different religious intolarance disguised as political rigor.
Old trick for naive americans! that's why we need to vote for Obama Education Reforms, so that less ignorant people will follow the steps of those poor populations ruled by religious fondamentalists.
Already voted straight DEM
Hope others see why the incumbents need to go. Get a whole new crowd. If they don't work, kick them out in four years and start over again until we get people we PAY TO WORK FOR US.