(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.
Liberals are real Americans, Americans who stand up to live the true Christian ethic of uplifting those less fortunate than ourselves, knowing that, but for the grace of God, we would be among those unfortunates. Liberals are Americans who believe we are all created equal, that we all have greater potential waiting to be realized, that we all deserve opportunities to achieve.
LIBERALS INVENTED THE AMERICAN DREAM AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT, MR. HAYES.
What have YOU contributed to America?
If that was the wrong way to say it, what is the right way?
I hate to disagree with Nancy P, but real Americans are not going to vote McCain into office. The Repubs are such a divisive group with their real Americans and real Virginians and we are all Georgians that it's clear they cannot lead the whole country, they only want to cater to what they perceive to be their own kind. That's not what this country was founded on. Maybe the conservatives shoud secede from the union, like the Alaska Independence Party is trying to do, and they have their very own leader at the moment.
Why apologize for the truth ! Just read these CNN blogs and you get nothing but negativity ,hate and derision for Republicans and anyone not embracing the liberal line !
Sir, I am a liberal and I am a Real American. My grandfather lost a hand in WWI. My uncle was shot in the back in WWII. My father was disabled in Korea. My brother fought in Vietnam. My son is in Iraq. We have paid in blood and devotion. We love America, we just don't agree with your platform of policies. You don't know how to disagree, which is vital in a democratic republic, you only know how to divide and hate.
Sir, I am sickened and saddened by your mindset, by the campaign you are running, and what you are doing to the nation I love so dearly. You, sir, are what is wrong with America. My family is one small part of the millions and millions that have fought, bled, and died so that we, each and every one of us, can be free to vote our own choice and opinion. You, sir, just drag all that sacrifice through the slime with those judgments you pronounce so lightly. You don't decide who the patriots are. That was done by better men than you.
I will be willing to bet that you don't post this comment. Why is it that CNN is so Pro Obama? This is like a football game that the officials get into . Why can't you be of a neutral comment or publication? If Obama makes a slip up comment, that is not covered by you, but let McCain or Palin, and it hits the front page
He meant every word he said as did Palin and all the others. I hope he gets voted out and then run out of town. I love my country but I sure don't like all the hate and yes the closet racist that still live in this country.
John McSame can be the president of the so-called pro america areas of the united states!
BARACK OBAMA WILL BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!
ONE NATION, INDIVISIBLE, UNDER GOD – UNITED FOR BARACK OBAMA!!!!!!
VOTE EARLY – BARACK THE VOTE!!!!!!!
Is Hate and Division, in Republican's DNA?
Why is it that so many Republicans don't seem to realize that things like tape recorders and YouTube exist? Their words come back to bite them (this guy, Michelle Bachman, Palin) and they keep denying, denying, denying, until they look like idiots.
Does the BO campaign pay CNN????
Soooo tired of the republicans trying to divide this nation.
Clearly there is a concerted effort from the republican party to brand themselves as the party for true Americans. Over the last several weeks there have been a number of members of Congress and of course Palin herself that have implied "liberals are anti-America" and that those in urban parts of the country are somehow less worthy.
They can keep apologizing, but it's scary to think that this message is getting out so consistently by members of the republican party. Who is giving them these talking points? Or rather is this the general feeling of republicans? It's scary to think about. I am voting democratic this year as we need unity now more than ever.
Vote Democratic NC and keep this kind of propagandist out of office!
"liberals hate real Americans," ??????????????????
Is he sleeping with Michelle Bauchmann???????????
If "real" Americans means completely and proudly ignorant, devoid of a world view, superstitious to the point of danger, unable to hold a rational thought, a non-believer in science, and a racist hate monger, then YES, I do hate "real Americans".
And this whole "libruhls want to punish success" thing is so stupid that I don't even know what to say.
Us vs Them.....not working this time
Now that they produced audio, he comes out with a statement.........Typical republican!
I am a progressive liberal Democrat, and I am a real American.
And I am voting for Barack Obama!
same old comments the republicans are filled with hate lets go out and vote get these raciast idiots out of office lets move forward not back to the 60s were ther was no diversity
A Republican lying? Say it ain't so!
Next he'll try to tell us there are WMDs in Iraq..........
I am a liberal. I don't hate "real americans," just this douchebag. I'll give you $700B if you can tell me why one struggling single-parent family or one young student looking to start a life via a college education or one elderly person trying to afford health care is any more "real" than another solely because of line on a piece of paper. ALL wars were fought over lines on a piece of paper...be they inaginary boundaries or words...is that where you'd have us go?
Republicans = PUKE!
I'm too young to remember McCarthyism but isn't this how it all started? One group questioning the patriotism or "Real Americanism" of another group? Is this polarizing hate-mongering all these republicans have left?
Next thing ya' know I'm gonna haft to sign a patriotism pledge just to keep my job dontcha know.