July 23rd, 2009
05:35 PM ET
5 years ago

First on the CNN Ticker: GOP questions Obama's police criticism

The NRSC will place a national Web ad Thursday questioning President Obama's criticism of  Massachusetts police department.
The NRSC will place a national Web ad Thursday questioning President Obama's criticism of Massachusetts police department.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Republicans will place a national Web ad Thursday calling into question President Obama's decision to criticize a Massachusetts police department for arresting a Harvard professor at his own home.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm for the Senate GOP, is paying for the ad that asks people whether it is appropriate for Obama to say that the Cambridge Police "acted stupidly" for arresting scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Gates was charged with disorderly conduct after reacting angrily when police arrived at his house after receiving a call that a break-in was taking place. On Tuesday, the charges against Gates were dropped. Obama was asked about the incident during Wednesday's nationally televised news conference, and he acknowledged that he may be "a little biased" because of his friendship with Gates.

"But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

The incident, Obama said, shows "how race remains a factor in this society."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama did not regret using those words, but sought to clarify that the president "was not calling the officer stupid."

"The situation got out of hand," Gibbs said.

A Republican official tells CNN that the NRSC is buying a Web ad that will run on the Drudge Report asking people if Obama's remarks were "presidential."

"This isn't taking sides between the police officers and Mr. Gates," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh told CNN. "It is the issue of whether it is appropriate for the President of United States to be weighing in and taking sides before, by his own admission, all the facts are known."

Walsh, who denied this was a political maneuver, said people who click on the ad will be directed to the NRSC Web site to record their thoughts.

"Unlike the president, we are not taking sides here," Walsh said. "He is the commander- in-chief. Is it appropriate for him to prejudge a legal matter when he doesn't know the facts?"

In addition, the NRSC will issue a news release this afternoon in an attempt to pressure Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, to "speak out" on the matter.

While Walsh said the NRSC is not seeking to politicize the issue, it does ask people to donate to the NRSC. And it is an opportunity for the NRSC to collect email addresses for future political undertakings such as fundraising.


Filed under: NRSC • President Obama
soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. zago

    Richard Weinblatt, director of the Institute for Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College, said the police sergeant was responsible for defusing the situation once he realized Gates was the lawful occupant. It is not against the law to yell at police, especially in a home, as long as that behavior does not affect an investigation, he said.

    "That is part of being a police officer in a democratic society," Weinblatt said. "The point is that the police sergeant needs to be the bigger person, take the higher road, be more professional

    July 23, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Obama Victim

    this managed to impune the integrity of doctors and law enforcment all in one "press conference"..............pretty impressive, even for Obozo

    July 23, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. Frank, Las Vegas

    The GOP will and does question anything and everything the President does. So what's new, this is not news, the GOP always says No.

    July 23, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Way to endear yourself to law enforcement Obama. Know the facts before you speak. Instead, you call the cops stupid and make it a racial profiling issue. That may work for a community activist, but is certainly not Presidential. If the arresting cop was black, would you have called him/her stupid?

    July 23, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. phoenix86

    Our racist in Chief just did what comes naturally after years organizing on the south side of Chicago.

    July 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Katie

    Oh no, the President said someone behaved stupidly in wrongfully arresting them based on race.

    How dare he say what everyone else is saying!

    This is ridiculous and anyone with a brain in their head can see that. The policeman is a racist, plain and simple, and should have left the professor alone once he realized the house was his. The end.

    July 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. You lose all credibility when you say Palin is smart

    "This isn't taking sides between the police officers and Mr. Gates," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh told CNN. "It is the issue of whether it is appropriate for the President of United States to be weighing in and taking sides before, by his own admission, all the facts are known."

    You mean like the pre-judging of the Iran elections.

    Hypocrisy be thy name!

    Good job guys!

    July 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Right Leaning Independent

    Our first "openly" Racist President!! Congrats America!! Did Obama see some video of the situation that no one else has seen? How in the hell does he know what happened? If anyone is forcibly trying to enter a house(even their own), the police have a right to make sure that person is who they say they are. Until you have proof, try acting more presidential!!

    July 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. Expat American

    ....Senate Republicans will place a national Web ad Thursday calling into question President Obama's decision to criticize a Massachusetts police department for arresting a Harvard professor at his own home.....
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    And the sky is blue, baby lambs are fuzzy and warm and milk will curdle if you pour it into orange juice.

    Republicans figured work was done in regards to race relations once they put 'Steele at the wheel'..!

    Har har har! That is for to laugh!

    July 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. Ben

    "Is it appropriate for him to prejudge a legal matter when he doesn't know the facts?"

    I guess this will come out in Gates's trial.

    oh, there are no charges? hmm...

    July 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Randolph Carter

    This just in: Republicans question Obama's chili recipe, republicans question Obama's ability to stand upright, republicans question Obama's tie color choice, republicans..... You get the idea. Have a nice day!

    July 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Expat American

    ....Senate Republicans will place a national Web ad Thursday calling into question President Obama's decision to criticize a Massachusetts police department for arresting a Harvard professor at his own home.....
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    And the sky is blue, baby lambs are fuzzy and warm and milk will curdle if you pour it into orange juice.

    Republicans figured their work was done in regards to race relations once they put 'Steele at the wheel'..!

    Har har har! That is for to laugh!

    July 23, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. aware

    Obama demonstrated a Biden moment! R....m in the White House? :(

    July 23, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Patty in the CA mountains

    Of course they "question" it....they HAVE to criticize every chance they get, valid or not, since they have no solutions.

    July 23, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. Mike from L.A.

    As a Black male & also someone who is in the hiring process for my PD, I have to somewhat side with the officers. Cops, do get a bad rap. Sometimes it's warranted, though.
    I can see why this guy would be pissed. I live in a white neighborhood and I've come home late at night and I've been pulled over, right in front of my own house, before. I really think that Skip was just fed up, but if you don't want things escalated shut your dang mouth and show your freaking ID and let it end. IF you want to complain, then do it later.
    As for Obama, whatever he said would be taken the wrong way. If he said the Skip was in the wrong, blacks would be all over him, too.
    We all don't know the full story, but if ID was presented, it should've ended. Nothing says you can't shout or be angry inside your house.

    July 23, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. Alan

    Of COURSE the GOP would react to that statement. The party of old white men doesn't see that minorities have been "targeted" in this country by the good ol' boy system for decades and it still goes on today.

    President Obaman didn't pre-judge the legal issues. He made his opinion of the actions taken by officers in that legal issue known.

    Keep digging your grave, GOP. It's going to have to be a BIG one to hold all of you when Obama, against everything you're trying to do to stop him from cleaning up YOUR mess, succeeds.

    July 23, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. RDS

    Let me guess what they'll say.."Obama doesn't support our police officers"..am I right. The point is the man was in the house when the police got there, they asked for his id he walked to the kitchen and got it and the police followed him in so I'm sure he saw family pictures of him all around the house. After he showed the police his license that should have been the end of it. I think both may have acted inapproriately. And the charges have been dropped so move on.

    July 23, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. haren

    When they will ask question for police action?

    July 23, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. joe

    obama is a failure

    July 23, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. Esco

    Quote: "While Walsh said the NRSC is not seeking to politicize the issue, it does ask people to donate to the NRSC. And it is an opportunity for the NRSC to collect email addresses for future political undertakings such as fundraising."

    Oh really!?! Who do you think you are fooling? The man was pulled out of his house and taken to jail...from his own home!!! And then you ask for donations for "future political undertakings"...?! The NRSC should be in question here, not John Kerry.

    July 23, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Larry

    What President Obama says is absolutely true. Race does remain a factor in this society.

    I can't wait till the next elections. Republicans have become very desperate people, now they're becoming counterproductive.

    Good thing the Dems control both houses. We can just ignore Republicans.

    July 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Jim

    Just goes to show that Obama is as racist as most other blacks. Anytime anything happens to a black person it is about race.

    July 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. ADO

    If the Republican party wishes to increase their appeal with african-americans this is not the way to go. Maybe the NRSC should consider how African Americans are uniformally treated by the police. I'm suggesting they actually talk to an african-american before they put their collective foot in their mouth.

    July 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. bozo the obama

    it's just his mentors Rev.Wrongs sermons coming out.

    July 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Mike

    Yes it does show us how race factors into our society. It shows us Obama is quick to offer a prejudiced opinion when involving a "black/white" issue and assume white on black racism....

    July 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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