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. Becky fron ca

    Now abamo now playing the race card before knowing all the facts. Calling the police stupid. This president will do and say anything before thinking it out then come up with a clever excuse for his mis-speaks again from those purple lips. God help America.

    July 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. Karina

    I watched Obama's press conference last night and with all the very important issues on the table , I was expecting to hear specific facts and figures.
    However , it was just the usual rhetoric and nothing of substance.
    What a useless President he is turning out to be.
    His remarks about the police were out of order.

    July 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Southern Gentleman

    The cop should have let the man go after seeing the ID. Personally I would have been yelling at the cops to get the hell out of my property for calling me a thief. Mistake or no mistake!!!!

    July 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Marjorie Hiltner

    Of course, it was wrong for O to inject his thoughts into this situation. I'll bet if the Prof had been white, O would have turned his head. O is setting us all up for 3 1/2 more years of he and his family prancing around in their fashion statement duds and living in luxury in their new digs. Are you not surprised that he is spending money like a drunken sailor? Typical, typical and just what I thought would happen once he got elected. I'm the fool, I voted for O. He is a great talker and he convinced me and thousands other that he was going to make us proud. I've never heretofore witnessed any president and his family (and today his mother-in-law) 0h, and the dog...so much in the news – mostly about nothing! He is definitely a socialist and he needs to be stopped. I'm voting Republican next time folks!

    July 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. Paul Abeln

    Republicans again show how clueless they are when it comes to matters of race. Go ahead and condemn the president and see how many black and hispanic voters you turn off. The self righteous party for fat old southern white guys strikes again.

    July 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. Alicia

    Rethugs on here, if you are not a Black or Hispanic man in America..........SHUT UP!!!!

    The cop should have apologized once he saw this decrepit man with a cane lived there. This cop is telling an outright lie!!!!! He did not notice the family pictures in the house? Like duh. At that point he should have apologized.

    But what am I saying when there are so many right wingnuts in America who would rather find a way to discredit the legitimitacy of the countries first Black President!!!

    CNN has done a great job with Black in America. Love how it shows how sick these people are still. Demint says he meant put the BRAKES not BREAK. He meant BREAK like slave. RAcist Demint.

    July 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Debbie in LA

    President Obama knew the facts, probably more than we know and he was right. The police officer acted stupidly and I feel he should apologize, not that it will mean anything. It's the principal. Racism is alive and this proves it. It rears its ugly head...

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. Rudy

    I think if he was there it would have been fine however the fact that he was not there and voice his opinion on the matter was just wrong on his part. However if he was privy to more information than we were and he is 100% certain that race played a part in that matter then so be it! I just think if he can say that about this situation he sure can say it in so many other issues that have happened to other races as well just makes him seem like any other black person complaining over something that should have never been reported on in the first place. If the media reported everytime something like this happened we wouldn't have any other news it happens to Mexican's all the time and i'm sure to Whites, Asians and all other races in this country! I guess your true colors shine when it's your kind!! President Obama stick to trying to get us back on track and leave these stupid matters for those incharge at that leavel. Please how many other shcolars have been accused of crimes and this guy couldn't have said the things that the officer said he did? Give me a break hope they did a BAT on him like they would have done me, maybe he had one too many on the plane or in the car!!!

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Mary Jo

    Taking the black man's side even without knowing all the facts is racial in my book. But then again only the blacks can do that!

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. Matt

    Our racist POTUS telling police officers how to do their job... big surprise.

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. Minnesotan

    Oh, look, the Republicans are trying to make yet another diversionary issue out of a passing comment by Obama. They're great at avoiding real issues, like health care and the economy. But they love throwing feces from behind their monkey bars. Pathetic.

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    So leave it to the idea-less GOP to politicize the Gates event in a stupid effort to gain political ground on the president.

    Funny how the GOP is so morally outraged over everything Obama does yet never uttered a word during the 8 filthy years of Bush/Cheney as they trampled the Constitution, bypassed Congress, spied on Americans, and LIED LIED LIED.

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  13. Frank

    This is stupid of the RNC. The officer said he arrested Prof Gates after it was determined that he was indeed the resident of the house. So gates was arrested because he got loud with an officer which is not a crime. Sounds like an abuse of power to me..

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. lotsa help

    I would not be upset if the cops were called because someone thought I was breaking in to my house. But my neighbors and I all know each other. And I certainly wouldn't be beligerent with the cops.
    I am white, i teach my kid to be polite. Is it getting to where blacks assume race on every interaction with a white person when things don't go well? Do they think their skin is really all any of us caucasions think about? Because it isn't, rude cuts across all race, creed and color. I know that I almost feel I have to be more considerate of a black person than I would a white person because I would hate to be called a racist.

    July 23, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. Mark Nigeria

    GOP and the cops – strange bedfellows, given that the GOP fights against anything that's in the interest of the cops: raising cop pay scales, the stimulus package that saved cops' jobs, banning concealed weapons etc.

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. Dude

    The rethugs are nothing but hypocritical blowhards. They should spend less time worrying about everything Obama says and more time working to solve problems faced by Americans. Oh, I forgot, their only goal is destroy Obama. Basically, the rethugs hate regular Americans, unless they can fool them into voting Republican.

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. John Sivills

    I agree with the president. While I do agree the whole thing was blown out of proportion on both sides, once it was proven the house was the professor's, the police should have left....without arrest. THAT WAS STUPID on the part of the Cambridge police sergent!

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Escritora69

    It's the president's opinion that the police acted stupidly. The president, being a citizen of the United States of America, is allow to express his opinion. He, like most rational thinking adults, realize that not everyone will share his opinion. The GOP is looking for any excuse to criticize him, justified or not. Do I think the police could have handled this better? Without a doubt. Once Dr. Gates provided verification that he was in his own home, the police should have left immediately. This situation unnecessarily escalated out of control and only by the grace of God no one was harmed.

    To those who agree with the GOP taking aim at trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill, I say, get over yourselves and concentrate on something really important and productive.

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Maryann Rose

    Of course it's the GOP who finds fault with the criticism.

    The police DID act stupidly.

    Is the President not allowed to have an opinion? Is he not allowed to express that opinion when it concerns a friend of his?

    When he is asked a question, is he supposed to lie, subvert, and distract from it?

    Oh, wait, that would be the previous administration.

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. faithful democrat/jacksonville

    Yes it was presidential. Are the GOPs saying because Mr. Obama is now the president , it's best that he not address what has happen? Right is right. Professor Gates identified to the officer that he was the owner so why was he arrested? It's the way the office handle the situation and I understand the frustration of Mr. Gates. I see it as a man being treated by another man in uniform unfairly. I do think sometimes people in uniform (policeman) over step their boundaries as well as the power they have as officers. No one is taking sides, it's the Commander-In-Chief opinion. And he does have the right to his opinion. So the GOP say it's okay for Sen. John Kerry to speak out on the matter? It's doesn't matter whether it's the president, senator, representative, etc. every one is entitled to their opinion. I think the GOPs are upset because both the President and Mr. Gates are black. Yes, I said it....BLACK. No it's not a race issue but that the President gave a positive opinion on the side of the victim (who is a black man). Now you all can read into it however you like but the question still remain the same about police racism toward black men. :).

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Zman

    Those GOP people need to focus on finding solution for the crises that we are going through instead of spend their time and the tax payer money in this subject. I kind of feel now they never come up with solution but problems.

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. s robinson

    I was surprised that obama put it out there. But, he was correct...... We got to do better in this country!

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  23. Jason

    Why should anyone care? This is not a national issue. The man arrested is a friend of the President, so it is understandable that he would take his friends side. Can we all move on????????

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. Anne - VA

    OMG! This is so elementary people! Get over yourselves. There is in fact a "BLACK" man in the White house and he isn't "cooking".

    Petty nonsense. I don't recall President Obama saying that the officer was "stupid"..just that he was "acting stupid". There is a difference between the two you know. Or do you?

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Ian

    Gates baited that cop...he wanted an altercation. Cop had a report of two blackmen with crowbar opening door. All gates had to do was show his ID and expalin....end of story. But like most of Civil Rights leaders...he doesn't want to fix things...he wants to keep things stirred up and cry VICTIM whenever he can

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12