September 13th, 2009
07:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Aide: Obama doesn't think tea partiers are racist

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that the president doesn't think growing conservative anger directed at the administration is being motivated by the color of the president's skin.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that the president doesn't think growing conservative anger directed at the administration is being motivated by the color of the president's skin.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A day after tens of thousands of conservatives gathered in Washington to protest the policies of the Obama administration, a top White House aide said that President Obama doesn’t think the protests and the growing conservative movement against Obama are motivated by racism.

“I don’t think the president believes that people are upset because of the color of his skin,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Pointing to the upcoming first anniversary of the collapse of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers, Gibbs said he thought the anger directed at the administration stems from the federal government’s unprecedented intervention in the private sector during the financial crisis that began last fall.

“We’ve had to do some extraordinary things, both this administration [and] the previous administration, to rescue the financial system, to ensure that our domestic auto industry didn’t go out of business, and to stimulate the economy,” Gibbs said.

“This rhetoric often gets way too hot,” Gibbs added, “I think what we have to all do is take a step back, take a deep breath and remember who we’re here to represent: millions of Americans that have health insurance but are watching their premiums double.”

soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. LacrosseMom

    September 13th, 2009 12:05 pm ET
    Wow, someone needs to pass that along to his liberal blog machine. Oh wait, I guess they just did. What will they do now that the race card no longer seems to have the social effect that it once did?
    _______________________________________________________

    Race card? How can anyone look at the ethnic makeup of the protesters, and say this is not about RACE!

    Its about ..........fear, racism, ignorance, hate. The haters in that crowd, and slandering when they "claim" to be .......... Christians!

    Read the GOSPELS!

    September 13, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Terry

    I just don't understand the HYSTERIA over this program. It's not like we haven't had government expansions and interventions before. The capitalist system we have today would not exist and thrive the way it does without regulations and interventions in the past. The free market is not a magical force that flows mystically from our founding fathers hands. It has had to be shaped and controlled through our entire history to work better for the average working class person. Calm down. Obama's plan isn't even liberal enough for a lot of people on the far left, much less somehow comparable to "socialism". What kind of "tea" are you drinking?

    September 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. HOldenLitgo

    He doesn't think teabaggers are racist? Hmm. He's not as smart as I thought.

    September 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom

    Someone posted that "for far too long people have been afraid to speak out!" Really? We have always had freedom of speech, with the following EXCEPTIONS:

    During the '50's when a Republican senator held hearings, condemning people for being communist.

    During the Bush Regime, when the SAME "Tea-Partiers" would call us on the Left, UN AMERICAN and UN-PATRIOTIC, for protesting the Bush wars! Which were based on LIES.

    So, its obvious that the ONLY people who can protest are the Conservatives, everyone else need to shut-up!

    You can protest all you want......... spewing hate and lies, is UN-Christian!

    September 13, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. Jim

    I am amazed when Obama was running, the race issue was quiet, now because America does not agree with his politics, anyone opposing "The Prince" is now a racist.
    Stop pulling the race card, simply put, American now has "buyers remorse" although McCain was not the answer, he is now looking very good to those who once supported Obama.
    Obama dropped the ball (like the Washington Redskins at each game) on the Gates phony arrest issue, he is not a Post race president, he is out to make a name for himself.
    I am sure Obama will be one term, but will the African American community be mad if he only gets one term? Will they cry racism if a candidate in 4 years looks better?, Get over it, his policies are not good and I dont think America will give him a 2nd term

    September 13, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. The Republicans are DIVIDING our great country!

    QUESTION FOR THE PROTESTERS AND DEFENDERS: If the Tea protesters aren't racists than why didn't I see any of them yelling at other protesters who were holding up signs of President Obama with a bone in his nose or signs with President Obama depicted as a monkey? ANSWER THAT AND THEN YOU'LL HAVE CREDIBILITY!!!!!

    September 13, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. sofie

    The president is too polite and his agenda is to move past the radical dualism between extremists that hardened during the Bush years; yes, it is racism. It is all the rage and disappointment of the same people who suffered from the farm crisis, the auto and steel industry declines, the migration of jobs overseas, and the social legislation that overcame Jim Crow laws and allowed abortions.

    Most of all it is the anti-immigrant sentiment that the extremists whip up after decades of immigration that began under Reagan after the wars in Vietnam and Central America. Whenever America increases immigration, nativists go hysterical. That is how the national KKK originated. The same issues are operating today, and it is all organized by the propagandists of racism, nativism, and other absolutisms.

    But, then, I am just a historian of these things. How would I know more than the transmitters of hate like Beck and Limbaugh and Wilson?
    I guess, as they say, "its a great world for the dumb guy."

    September 13, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Irene

    The WH can't call the racism card because it's not PC. We all know, however, that the "Hate every Obama" movement is indeed about racism. These are despicable people who are sore losers because they could not cheat on this last presidential election like they did on the two elections that placed that bum: Bush into office.

    September 13, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Average Joe

    Why hasn't any news media outlet noticed the overwhelming whiteness of the protest gatherings? These groups are hardly representative of the US demographic and yet their protest language asserts over and over no racism or bias – Ye protesteth too much! It's abundantly clear to me that their irrational fear of change, choosing to ignore facts (ignorant) and such vitriol are symptomatic of extremist behvavior not at all unlike what we see in al qaeda expressed sentiments.

    September 13, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. mother and sister of a soldier

    @Ryan....I supported yesterday's march and I am not at all unhappy with my life. I am fiscally responsible, have raised and educated two kids and both my husband and I have worked hard for the things we have. No, I am just unhappy with a government meddling in the private sector, a government who is not taking a logical approach to health care reform (I agree we need it), a government whose spending is out of control and who needs to prove they can run SS and Medicare first. I am appaled that through all this it is those on SS who has a COLA freeze for two years. AND, most of all I am upset that Obama's Czars who are not not accountable to anyone are the 5% most radical in our country. I remember the Weathermen bombing government installations. I want this country to follow the Constitution and Obama is stepping right on it.

    September 13, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. Zion

    Beverly September 13th, 2009 3:48 pm ET

    What our elected officials DON'T understand is common sense. I've always driven GM cars. But, if GM can't make a profit, they shouldn't be in business. The same goes for banks and other financial institutions like huge insurance companies. As an investor, I had to deal with my losses. Why don't they? Nobody bailed me out and I'm still cutting costs to make ends meet! As for health care, either leave it alone or socialize it so it's the same and fair for everyone! The whole issue is fairness.
    ------–

    This is why our economy collapsed, thinking like this. I wish GM and the other big corporations could just simply disappear. Here's the problem with this sort of idealistic thinking. When those companies disappear, so do the jobs. Republicans are great with microeconomics, but with macro (the big picture) you don't get it. Oh, I see this user is saying socialize. Wow. I challenge you, look that word up lady.

    September 13, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Republican Truth

    Color has nothing to do with this issue! You ignorant AH's blaim evrything on color and race. It is you, democrats making this a racial issue. I don't care who is in the Presidential position I would not agree with their issues if they were the same as Obama's. Now get over it!

    September 13, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. Jamie

    The concept of these tea parties – as protest mechanisms – are legitimate and a bit clever (I saw this as a die-hard Obama supporter). There is nothing wrong with loyal opposition, and if you're against the administration's policies because you actually believe they aren't constructive, then more power to you.

    However, we've all seen who shows up to these tea parties. In addition to the more reasoned thinkers, there are bizarre birther-types who pray that the president will die of a brain tumor, compare him to Hitler, call him a socialist or spread ludicrous rumors about him and his policies without actually bothering to check with legitimate sources (try Snopes.com, for instance). They don't want to like our president and the answer why is quite clear: 1) He's a Democrat and 2)He's a person of color. When you get a guy like Joe Wilson, who represses his rage at this combination of offenses (Wilson criticized Strom Thurmond's previously unacknowledged African-American daughter for revealing herself to the world after the senator's death because he felt it reflected on Thurmond's integrity. Well, yeah, abandoning your child and attempting to make her a second class citizen does does reflect on your integrity, but not that of the person who exposes it). That's why he burst out in anger when the president was speaking. He clearly does not believe President Obama deserves the same respect a Caucasian president does. He's proven so with his actions.

    The tea party movement, to be regarded as legitimate, must expel the nutcases among them. Only then can they be taken seriously.

    September 13, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Against all odds

    Every critic of the Obama agenda turns out to be a racist.
    Amazing! I mean, like, what are the odds?

    September 13, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. Marie in California

    Three cheers for Tea Parties! Wish I could have been in DC for this one!

    There will be more Tea Parties......bigger and better. Government has gotten too big, too expensive, and waaay too controlling of individual rights and freedoms. I think our elected "officials" have forgotten what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are all about. Our Founding Fathers never advocated a huge welfare state.

    And that doesn't even address our massive federal deficit. If I ran my credit cards in that manner, I'd be in bankruptcy court. Government needs to live within its means. Just as I do. Period.

    And there's nothing racist about it at all......Obama is right there in the same rickety boat as Feinstein, Boxer, Barney Franks, Pinnochio Pelosi, Harry Reid and countless others........and they are all WHITE! What they all have in common is wanting to take money that people work hard to earn and redistribute it to those who don't work.

    How about government spending less, providing less, and going back to the basic American premise of individual responsibility and personal accountability?

    Go Tea Parties!

    September 13, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Joseph, Los Angeles

    First the right wingers tried to make Liberal a bad word; that's not working. Now they are throwing Socialist out there like it's a bad thing; that's not working either. So they paint a Hitler mustache on Obama and call Pelosi a Nazi; frankly, that's only embarassing. Makes you wonder why only one network even bothered to cover that circus.

    September 13, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Irene

    Let's not move past this Cantor. Wilson is just one example of the disgusting behavior by the GOP at town hall meetings. The lowlife GOP believe that they can disrupt progress by not allowing civil discussion and this needs to stop now. We can only move past this when the GOP stops lying, cheating, calling names (like communist, socialist), painting swastikas on Obama's name, and most of all putting down their guns. They are starting to threaten violence at these teabagger parties. The GOP have become the new terrorists and we need to stop terrorism at home by shutting down the racist GOP!

    September 13, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. Fran

    The beginning approval ratings are proof that the problem is not race. It's just that it seems like this administration wants the government to take over everything. I don't trust the government whether Dem or Repub.
    And I do think my employer will ditch me if he can get out of paying my health insurance.
    There are a lot of things we can do without hijacking the American people.
    SO TIRED OF PAYING TAXES!!!!!!

    September 13, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. MsOD

    These people are the same one's who probably tuned out politics and issues for most of their lives and then come late to the party when they realize they don't like who got elected. They refuse to truly educate themselves and look outside their circle. Maybe they'll vote more from now on. Also, those complaining about government take over of auto industry, banks, etc,. these corporations begged the government for bailout money, no one made them take it, but they should pay it back. Do all these people protesting healthcare reform have great affordable private insurance or are they sucking the government tit of Medicare? If they are, they should refuse Medicare and buy their own private policies out of pocket since they are against government run healthcare

    September 13, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. irishny

    Its nothing to do with race.
    Its about the governemnt growing too large and destroying the free market.
    Less taxes,less government.
    People dont go out and work 70 hour weeks so that the government can steal their money via taxes and bail out whatever industry it wants.

    Quit all the race baiting and deal with issues.
    Id a white southern good ol' boy was increasing the size of governemnt id be irritated too!

    September 13, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. Dan, WA

    This guy is still in the campaign mood and so also our president. It shows their lack of experience to govern. Presidential campaign is still going on and Barack Obama is collecting funds from his admirers.

    September 13, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. blackHat

    The so-called 'Tea-Parties' are circle-jerks for sore losers, wringing their hands in frustration over their predicament: For the next 4 years at least, they're not in a position to be calling the shots, so instead they're crying foul.

    You have to feel at least a little sorry for them; George W. Bush was their saviour. He had everything–the religious right whispering in his ear (or was it god himself?), he wielded the military like a drunken cowboy, he waxed more rhapsodic than bin Laden's Arabic about patriotism, and manipulated the word 'freedom' beyond any discernible semblance of its actual meaning. He patterned his administration as if he were shaking the exhumed skull of Ronald Reagan like a magic 8-ball.

    Ultimately, he failed. Failed to build a time machine to transport us all back to that time of perfection that was the 1950's–or, at the very least–bring Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover back from the dead.

    Now he's gone, and after an eight-year hatchet job of government, conservatives' apparent chagrin and incredulity that the opposition would emerge victorious is nothing short of silly. Conservatives are frustrated because they had their chance, but they blew it. Obama's complexion isn't even just frosting on the cake; it's mere sprinkles.

    September 13, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. Adele

    President Obama could never say it is about race, I feel it does have some racial elements to it because of the look of the crowds. Why does it seem that these people with what I call "false rage" seem to all look alike. Not to keep bringing up the past but over the last 8 years I did not notice this type of rage in people and I felt that the country was worse then. How can you have this type of rage for a person who has been in office only 9 months? Makes me wonder.

    September 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. HJA

    Against all odds September 13th, 2009 4:18 pm ET

    Every critic of the Obama agenda turns out to be a racist.
    Amazing! I mean, like, what are the odds?

    I listened to a right wing nut case a couple of months ago. Ranting just like the TEA party nuts. everything he tried to push on me I rejected and countered what he said. He was getting mad. When I told him "Obama was elected into office so he is your president for the next four years" he snapped back and I quote."No n- – - – r is going to be my president". I walked away. Don't tell me race isn't a factor.

    September 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. leticia crawford

    I have to smile at the fact that some people do not have the ability to accept that the Democrats won, furthermore, for many to accept that they lost to a minority candidate is even harder. They don't seem to stop leaking their wounds...

    September 13, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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