September 13th, 2009
07:00 PM ET
9 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. jeff

    Tea Parties are Racist. But people would be foolish to think some of the people that attend it are not racists. Its a sad fact.

    September 13, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Jay

    I think somebody needs to spike the tea a little.

    September 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. yoyolite

    Hugo I am sure you would like to believe that race is not a factor, because it eases your conscious. However,when you look at the crowd, please show me minorities with signs showing Obama as a nazi or in other racist portraits. How many minorities are shown carrying loaded weapons at a presidential event. So. please get off the rhetoric about liberals playing the race card. It is in your face. Look in the mirror and call it what it is RACISM plain and simple.

    September 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. sparky

    Maybe ALL are not racist – but pictures of some of the attendees scare me. Signs to buy AK47's. What For? Signs to start a Militia. What For? I believe that every American has the right to free speech and to demonstrate and to disagree. But some of these people are only down on this planet, not most, but alot, for a short visit. Calling Obama Hitler.... That one I do not get.... Can anyone explain the rationale to that analogy for me ??

    September 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Heidi

    I have no problem with the teabaggers or what ever they call themselves. I do have a hard time distinguishing them from the birtthers who are pretty clearly motivated by racism. When I see people carrying semi-automatic weapons near the president I am frightened. I do not agree entirely with the health reform suggested. I would like a rational discussion of the issues. The problem is that Democrats and Republicans are completely isolated from reality. In the real world we cannot fix everything with spending nor will tax credits assist unemployed people in buyine coverage. I voted for Obama but htink we need to look at things longer and turn the anger down a notch.

    September 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Mr. President on this I disagree with you . These tea parties are put together for more then one reason BUT one of the reasons is because these people cannot and will not accept you as our President because of the color of your skin. Very sad but true.

    September 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Ray E.

    This "Problem" has been coming since FDR. The Big Government Programs that have been supposed to Fix Everything so far has been a huge failure. As I understand it every man, woman and child has about a $37,000.00 bill because of so called "Help" Programs put in place by DEMOCRATS over the last 70 years. So if everything hasn't been fixed by now, I have to ask, WHAT HAPPENED?

    People are fed up with the liberal, Just Trust Me, I am just here to help you. Some think these big programs are working. With a $12 trillion dollar debt and the real possibility that it will double in the next 4, 8, 16 years people have had enough.

    I understand revenues to the government are down to the government. Why? Could it be because of all the big liberal policies over the last 70 years? That's what I see.

    September 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Pablo

    I think tea party is not racist. The participant have legitimate concern about the role of the government. They have some doubt and reserve towards the health care like any other reform. At the end of the day, we all need a debate to get things done and I hope we will have finally a very good health care system.

    September 13, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    It really drives the tea baggers nuts that this supposedly "inferior" person (i.e., a Black Man) is more intelligent, thoughtful, classy and hard-working than our previous President. It makes the tea baggers feel bad about themselves – because their self-esteem hinges on being able to look down upon others.

    President Obama blows away all their stereotypes. His abilities and success – not to mention his solid family and personal life – fly in the face of their reality. If this belief of theirs is untrue, what's next? Their world is crumbling beneath their feet ... all because they can't get beyond the superficial.


    September 13, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. Casey

    GOP-brains: No one of intelligence is paying attention to your distractions. The truth is that you are totally terrified of the idea of the Obama administration succeeding. It would mean the last nail in your coffin.

    September 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. FGD

    The racist are the lberals. You keep dragging this out and calling other by this term when it's you who do everything in your power to label others. I notice liberals revert to calling name when they are unable to debate facts.

    Taxes are too high and the debt is to great, we have to STOP spending money we don't have. I don't see obama or congress trying to stop the waste of fraud of medicare before passing any new laws. Why put the cart before the horse. Show me the savings first!

    September 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  12. Anonymous


    The massive and very peaceful crowd that I was in the middle of yesterday were a far cry from "Far too hot.."

    Reasonable, rational people from a wide range of backgrounds marched on Capital Hill to embody the disapproval ratings in person.

    September 13, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    A pack of morons who think Obama is a Fascist.... These idiot don't know the meanings of words like FASCIST, SOCIALIST, MARXIST... or they would have demonstrated again Bush/Cheney.... and yes they probably ARE racists.

    September 13, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. S Callahan

    It would be foolish to say that racism doesn't exisit, it does. But I don't think that is what is driving the tea partiers....I think people are truly afraid for the future of this country, for the future of this world. It's not about just those in position of power but the attack on the staying power of the family, of a good days wage for a good days work, of proper housing and all it's added features. This nation has always been a caring nation, reaching out to others, and in the heat of the fight they pick themselves back up, brush off their disagreements, and come together for the greater cause...This nation. Put God back into the leadership and you'll see a better, happier nation.

    September 13, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. jules sand-perkins

    Racism is not a conservative value.
    Aspiration and greatness are conservative values.
    Any conservative knows that greatness comes in as many flavors as ice cream.
    So does failure.
    Conservatives do not subsidize failure: they let it float.

    It is not because of racism that many bloggers have failed and are now screaming "racism."
    Many of them think that "biased" is spelled "bias."

    September 13, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    These people are Danny Bonaduce Republicans: they think they know what's best for America and the world despite having made total messes of their own lives and having rabidly supported the disastrous Bush reich.

    It would be comical except these carnival freaks will probably start taking their "traitor" "liberals are the enemy" "socialists" vomit-delusions seriously and start killing people.

    September 13, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Clark

    interesting how the democrats automatically prejudge a person and conclude they are racist because they don't like the President's agenda.

    seems sort of illogical and hypocritical of them to me. after all they hated President Bush's agenda .... and actually stated they hated President Bush ... enough so that many said they would move out of the U.S. .... does that mean they are racist against whites? No. But they can't logically argue both sides ... without looking ridiculous, and manipulative.

    September 13, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Reagan was wrong

    If they claim to be against big government spending, where were they during Bush's 1 Trillion dollar illegal war? Where were they when Bush's tax cuts depleted 2.5 Trillion dollars from the national coffers?

    They claim to be against "socialized medicine", but they'd never give up their Medicare and Social Security. (They also traveled on public roads to get to their protest, but that's a little besides the point).

    They don't like the President's health care plan, but their leaders provide no options of their own, other than heavily diluted window-dressing that only perpetuates the status quo.

    Since their reasons for protesting are a textbook illustration of hypocrisy, and since they can't specifically identify what they are protesting FOR, it's pretty clear that their anger is at the man, not at his policies. Of course, Obama can't (correctly) identify these people as racists, or else the likes of Limbaugh and Beck would use that as an excuse to incite violence.

    September 13, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. Ms. M

    As Americans, we have the right to freedom of speech. My position is just as they beleive in the First and Second Amendment rights, they also should believe in the rights of each person to make choices about issues that affect their lives (abortion and gay rights). These are individual civil rights that the government has NO business 'telling us how to choose'. The people who participate in Tea Parties and other right wing conservatives, are hypocrites. They say one thing and want things 'their way' but they also want to tell others what they can or cannot do (civil rights). Mind you, I am a Christian who loves the Lord. The bible states that our Christian duty is to witness about Jesus. Not invoke hatred, as some of them do. They do not want government to tell what to do with health care but they want government to tell us we cannot make very personal choices. If you have not read lately, abortions have gone down in America. Which is wonderful. However, every person has the RIGHT to make his/her choices. Think about it. Let's all but love and respect before one another and our invidivual decisions.

    September 13, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    To everyone who thinks all of our fiscal problems are the result of Democratic Party policies:

    – We had the biggest deficits under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush
    – Things got so bad under George H.W. Bush that he had to break his promise of "Read my lips – no new taxes" to try to reign in the deficit.

    – Under FDR, we came out of the Great Depression and enjoyed an unprecidented 40 years of economic expansion.

    – Under Clinton, we ended up with a budget surplus.

    – Medicare and Medicaid have helped countless people – including children and the elderly – something that is our moral right as the leader of the free world to do.

    Do a little research, folks!

    September 13, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. B

    The intervention of the Democratic party has been an absolute necessity after the Republicans under Bush and Co. drove this country to the BRINK!

    Where were all of these idiots when Bush got us involved with TWO wars that have about destroyed this economy? When his total- Reagan style- deregulation of everything-banks, housing, defense spending, health, environment- and let the foxes guard the hen houses and Rape the middle class of this country?

    The Republicans have spent this country to where it is now before Obama took over!!!

    September 13, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Michael Stallworth

    I personally think that not all, but a small group of these (as Roland Martin dubbed them more than a month ago) 'nutty people' are. Overall, these tea baggers are just one example of buffoonerific extremists who are so against the president that it drives them stone crazy. If there's anyone who needs to be recommended for psychiatric therapy, it's these clowns.

    September 13, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. JJ in NY

    How can CNN in their infinite wisdom claim that all of the Tea Party participants are conservative? Perhaps, just perhaps, many of them are also liberals who now have "buyer's remorse" ! I know that I do .

    September 13, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. johnrj08

    I have to disagree with Gibbs. I think most of the so-called tea-baggers probably are racists. Maybe not the type who would burn a cross on the White House lawn, but the type who would eagerly accept any slur or attack on his integrity without a shred of skepticism. These people are like sheep being led by a core group of white southerners who are mortified that a black man is sitting in the White House. They are part of a larger movement to de-legitimize Obama's presidency and nullify the last presidential election. That is why Obama is being attacked on so many fronts, from his citizenship and his religious faith, to his handling of the economic crisis and health care reform. But, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if the tea-baggers are bigots or not. What matters is that their impact on the political and social progress in this country is a precise match to any white supremacist's tactics. The combination of intense ignorance and stridency makes these people a danger to the republic.

    September 13, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. Moosehead

    President Obama is absorbing a lot of body blows in the name of the American people,. he would rather take the hit personally, rather than throw fuel on the fire, and turn an already incendiary situation into a fiery inferno. We need to support this wonderful leader, and make sure he knows he is being supported. Obama will not cry and whine, about the racism and ill will being directed his way, by a small number of hate mongers,... it's up to every decent American to forcefully denounce the voices of hatred.

    September 13, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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