July 23rd, 2009
03:25 PM ET
5 years ago

NRCC targets Obama for saying Cambridge cop 'acted stupidly'

(CNN) – The National Republican Congressional Committee came to the defense of the Cambridge, Massachusetts police officer who arrested black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., attacking President Obama for saying Wednesday night the officer 'acted stupidly.'

In a statement targeting several House Democrats from Massachusetts, NRCC communications director Ken Spain said, "This is certainly a questionable rush to judgment coming from a president who hasn't exactly been quick to call out unconscionable behavior by a merciless foreign dictator or gotten his facts straight before advocating a trillion-dollar mistake to address our ailing economy."

"Is it really presidential for him to cast harsh judgment of a law enforcement official without all the facts?" said Spain.

The statement calls on Massachusetts Democrats to say whether they agree with the president's assessment. The National Republican Senatorial Committee also launched a Web ad Thursday asking whether it was appropriate for Obama to reach a judgment on the matter after he himself admitted he did not know all the facts.


Filed under: NRCC • President Obama
soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. TIME

    This was a bad move by the police officer. Presidenet Obama didn't call the officer stupid; it because the police officer put himself in a stupid positon.

    I'm also a african person..

    July 23, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. Jim

    I'm white. I like ALL good people regardless of color. However, it was a small local issue that I don't think a President should have even commented on. He probably should apologize to the office and police department. Not a huge deal. Let's move on...

    July 23, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. Barb

    The African Americans have not been impressed with Obama , concerning their issues and he needs their support on this health care mess. I think the question was planted so he could act like he cared about a black issue. However this could cause a reaction from the black community that results in a dangerous situations where police are involved. A remark like this from the President of the United States is not good for blacks , whites and hyspanics. Of course he had too include hyspanics he needs their approval on health care.

    July 23, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Cops Do No Wrong

    Once the cop has seen the man's ID, it's time for him to shut up, get in his car and leave.

    The cop has no "rights" after that point to be in this man's house.

    Dr. Gates can disturb his own peace ... in his own house ... anytime he wants to.

    July 23, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    So many important things going on and this is what the GOP wants to focus on?

    July 23, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Brian

    Obama didn't say the officer was stupid. He said the department "acted stupidly." Besides, making a stupid decision is different from being stupid. I almost backed into a coworker in the parking lot yesterday. That was a stupid move...but it doesn't mean I'm unintelligent.

    July 23, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I think comments like this below are the problem with "society" and why race remains a factor. It's a shame that our own president would say such things. The officer was attacked without even saying anything racial whatsoever. If anyone needs an apology, the officer does.

    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."

    July 23, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. RR in AZ

    The President has a right to express his opinions just like anyone else and he was upfront about his bias and everything else.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Carnell

    Welcome To The Twilight Zone, Should Anybody Be Surprised That Anybody Or Anything Republican Attatched To It Responding To President Obama...No Way! It Seems That All The RepubliCANTS Do Is Counter Act With Hot Air And Lip Service.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Karina

    Obama's comment was out of order and uncalled for ,certainly not expected from a sitting President.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. burl

    How sad to set race relations back by a president having to interject his bias into a national news conference. I am getting sick of a standard for blacks, and a different standard for whites. The president was not at the interaction in Cambridge...had the police not come to the assistance of gates, he would have been castigated for not. It is starting to appear that prof gates has a major chip on his shoulder, and by carrying on in this matter, a book, film and lawsuit appears to be in the future of his antics. A black president might have been put into office, but if all of this arrogance continues, it will do nothing but push away all good will people have worked on for so long. We all go through this life once, I am fed up with this crap. Where I never saw color, I am not stupid, and I sure see it now.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. dmg

    The President was ask a question, and he gave an honest answer. When the officer saw that it was Mr Gates house , that should have been the end of it. Should Mr. Gates have not run his mouth, yes! but I don't think that is cause to arrest him.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Patty

    I think comments like this below are the problem with "society" and why race remains a factor. It's a shame that our own president would say such things. The officer was attacked without even saying anything racial whatsoever. If anyone needs an apology, the officer does.

    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."

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Grrr-awful-o

    If Obama was smart he would have not commented on this. Cops have done lots of things they shouldn't have (that got into the media) over the years but since when does the President get involved and directly call the cops stupid? I doubt that Obama knows the entire situation. Yes, they should not have harrassed this guy after they established that he was the home owner. But they weren't out of line responding to the call (they should do that with a white person or any other person seen trying to break into a house). And if the professor was beligerent it is not uncommon for cops to over react to that. They shouldn't. I abhor that. But they do it will all races. I doubt these particular cops were racists and I suspect the good professor was indeed quite beligerent (just a hunch... it all adds up with how things played out). And Obama, if he were smart, would have stayed out of petty, if stupid, squabble in some neighborhood.

    I guy I know (white male) smarted mouthed some cops when we were in college and found himself in a headlock right afterwards. Would the president have publicly called that cop stupid after hearing about it? Nope.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. daunt

    What else do you expect from the NRCC.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  16. Ms. C

    It is very likely that Professor Gates was more than a little irate before the officer arrived. He'd just returned from an exhausting flight from China. His front door wouldn't open. Then, he's being accused of being a burglar. I've never met the man, and indeed had never heard of him, but I - a white woman - can sympathize. However, by taking his anger out on the police officer, Prof. Gates unwittingly painted the officer with the same broad "prejudice" brush he claims was used against him, the brush that says "all white cops are racists." I sympathize with the officer. He's human, and he's tired of being treated like an unfeeling robot in cop clothes. However, once Sgt. Crowley learned the man in question resides at the house, and there was no burglary in progress, he should have defused the situation by saying "Sorry to bother you, Sir. Have a good evening." End of call. Apologies are warranted–on both sides.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Pat F

    Sorry, Ben, nice try, but you can't pin this one on Bush.

    Barry's foot is wedged nicely in his mouth, and all the King's horses and all the King's men won't be able to yank it out.

    I'll leave you to figure out where your head is wedged.

    July 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. justo

    i am an african american.. as much as i admire and respect prz obama, i think he screwed up on the comments above. the investigations are nt ove r yt so he should have waited before throwing the first stone...

    July 23, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  19. Lauren

    The truth is they did act stupidly. They had proof that the house belonged to the man, but they arrested him anyway. That kind of thing only happens to people of color.

    Why aren't the republicans criticizing the police for arresting him wrongly! Oh, I know the answer to that, they want to politicize this issue and distract from doing real work like solving the health care issue.

    July 23, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. Viet.Vet

    If anyone thinks the President wasn't brief on this incident is living in a make beleive world, of course that is the track record of the Repugs. This whole incident could have been avoided if someone feeling didn't get involved namely the Policeman, a Sergent at that who appeartenly lacks common judgement. All he had to do" Good evening Sir, I am investigating a call for a breaking and entering, I see by your Identifacation you are the home owner, did you see or hear anyone breaking in to your house? My name is Sergeant X of the Cambridge Police Dept. here is my card or the telephone number ...be safe and have a good evening. Case close, no drama.

    July 23, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. Don

    I could not believe my ears when I heard President Obama weigh into this incident after admitting he did not have all the facts. He certainly didn't and then to say the police acted "stupidly" was really stupid on his part. I happen to agree with the police officer that he was alone and acting for his own safety. This is one time I think we had a black man with a chip on his shoulder and he is the one that let things get out of hand. I am a supporter of Obama but he owes the police an apology in this case, as does the professor.

    July 23, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. pistachio

    Sorry but the policeman in this incident was doing what he was sent to do. Let's suppose he saw the card Mr. Gates held up showing who he was and that he lived there and the policeman had left, only to find out that there may have been a domestic dispute taking place behind that door or that another man in fact held up the identification card saying he was Mr. Gates and in fact there was an intruder in the house and God forbid something terrible happened behind that door when the policeman left. Everyone in the US, black and white would have been saying why did that policeman leave, that he could have stopped something from happening if he did what he was sent to do. So I don't blame the officer for not apologizing. He was doing the job he was trained to do and the call he was sent to investigate. Just because Obama is friends with Mr. Gates does not mean the man could not do something wrong. Yes, Obama was asked for his opinion and he could have just said "I don't have all the facts, so I cannot comment on the incident" and left it at that.

    July 23, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Astounded

    Amazing that it is controversial to say that an American citizen should not be arrested in his own home after proving to an officer of the law that he lawfully resides there. Amazing that asking for a name and badge number and raising one's voice IN ONE'S OWN HOME is considered, by some, justifiable cause for arrest. Simply AMAZING.

    July 23, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. TAY KELLER

    President Obama was 100% correct in giving his OPINON. The meeting was about healthcare, so why would someone ask a question unrelated to Healthcare? Don't ask the question, if you don't want the answer. If they would of stuck to the subjuct, he wouldn't of had to of giving his OPINON. Anyway, There is and will always be racial profiling in America (not United States) we are no longer United, Thanks to the republicians. My son was driving a rental from Arkansas to North Carolina, it was one of the new Cadiliacs. While driving through Nashville TN, he was pulled over, the cops searched the car, his suitcase, and his person. An hour later, when nothing could be found, my son asked the cop why did he stop him, the cop told him because he wasn't following a car length behind the car that was in front of him. My son just shooked his head and continue on. However he called his wife in Arkansas and had her call the police station to see if It was a law in Nashville TN. She was told NO, and was her husband still be detained by the police, because they were going to send someone out. Since he had already left, nothing was done. But YES , People of COLOR can owe and rent nice things.

    July 23, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Jamie in Phoenix

    When in doubt, play the race card.

    July 23, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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