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. Tom C in NY

    Obama may not think this lunatic fringe is racist, but I do! At least a good majority of these protestors are racist idiots. Just look at their signs and observe their behavior.

    September 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Dylan from MN

    I totally think the majority tea partiers are racist, the most apparent thing I've noticed in this world is that dumb white people hate any one that's not like them...and I'm a white person. Tea Partiers tend to be part of the baby boomer crowd, and though they had the hippies in the 60's and 70's, a good chunk of them are racist biggots.

    September 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Robert Worthington

    I disagree with that notion. I believe that the President and his aides are either naive, or they are being careful as not to stir the hornet's nest. To say that an overwhelmingly white conservative base does not despise the President because he is black is completely false. I am sure there are some conservatives who genuinely disagree with Obama's policy, but the vast majority of conservative Republicans are extremely upset that a black man won the Whitehouse over a white war hero. I have seen it with my own eyes. The economic deregulation perpetuated by the previous administration that was largely supported by conservative Republicans was a major contributor to our financial crisis. Now, we have a Democrat in office who is in many cases being blamed for the fallout he inherited and on top of that, is black. I think that Obama knows that race is an issue, and will be throughout his presidency. His statement to the contrary was simply one of appeasement. Ignoring the issue of race and focusing on the tasks at hand to fix the real problems that Americans face could contribute to success overall, regardless of how many conservative Republicans pray for his failure.

    September 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    jules sand-perkins wrote: "Racism is not a conservative value.
    Aspiration and greatness are conservative values."

    I must disagree with Jules.

    First: Racism is a big part of Conservatism. As Lyndon Johnson said when he rammed the Civil Rights Bill through Congress in 1964, "I'm afraid we've given the South to the Republicans for the rest of my lifetime." Because Democrats integrated the South, integrated Southern hospitals with Medicare, integrated the voting booth, colleges, public schools, and every other major part of Southern life, many Southern Democrats switched to Republicanism with Dick Nixon in 1968. They hide their racism behind the "States' Rights' clause of the Constitution as we all know. They certainly don't propose any anti-racist laws at the state or local level. They argue against them – always. Racists have joined with Corporatists, Libertarians, Protestant Fundamentalists, and Goldwaterites to form the unholy alliance we call American Conservatism. It is the most dangerous force in America, and the greatest threat to liberty.

    Second: Conservatives aspire to greatness only in their rhetoric, unless you are referring to the great fortunes of the wealthy class. Pay absolutely NO attention to what Conservatives say. They don't ever try to implement any of that stuff. Watch what the DO. Follow the money. When Conservatives actually take action, it is to protect and enhance the wealth of the top 5% of American families. The only function of Conservatism as a political force is to prevent government from solving any of America's problems. The upper class has no problems and they don't acknowledge the problems of the middle and lower classes.

    Conservatism is a synonym for class warfare.

    September 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Buddy Gilmour

    Obama is hoping to defuse this with a minimum of trauma. But you can bet the men and women in law enforcement aren't happy when they read " In Louisville, Kentucky, two young men in camouflage fatigues roamed the crowd trying to recruit new members for their militia called the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters. They bear signs reading "AK-47s: today's pitchfork" and "Quit worrying. Start your militia training today." In Jackson, Michigan, a young man didn't need a sign. He was carrying the real thing: A loaded AK-47 assault rifle and two loaded handguns. "I don't want a revolution. I don't want a civil war," he said. "But it is a possibility. It's there as an option, as a last resort.""

    Unlike the protesters at Kent State, these Tea Party folks are armed and dangerous.

    September 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Svenska

    I'm really tired of hearing the "take back our country" rant. Why are Americans like goldfish when it comes to history??? The USA was built by immigrants. Its not a "white" country. The whites are immigrants that slaughtered the "real" Americans.

    September 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Brad

    President Obama is an extremely smart man. He knows exactly the
    real motives of these "tea bagging posers".

    He's just too intelligent to be drawn into a race battle by the media.

    Yes, he knows WHAT they are all right. He will just use his brilliance to
    beat them at their own game.

    As usual.

    September 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. Edward

    Republicans can make as much noise as they want at town halls and even when the president is addressing the nation but know this, should the economy recover, and it will, you have no hope of winning in 2012. What are you going to run on? The only thing I can think of are death panels and how much you think that the president is not really a US citizen … and I'm being serious. I can't think of any alternatives that Republicans have proposed. This is why though the presidents approval rating has dropped Republicans approval rating has not risen. When I think Republican I think Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and her "Obama wants to kill your grandmother". Seriously? That's all you've got? Goodluck!

    September 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. Ken in NC

    Because the President is the President, he cannot just come out and accuse a group of racism but I can and many others can and are calling these actions cats of racism. There is no hiding it. People are being so open about these racist acts that even Stevie Wonder can see them.

    I think sometimes about how the world used our country to show how one can go from the fields of hate and segregation to the open society we have here and when we elect a President of "Mixed Heritage", the bowels of this nation open up and show all the ugly that has been hiding just below the surface. It's like the 50's and 60's where Whites saw a person of Mixed Heritage and because it was Black and White, they were automatically grouped with Blacks. Little or no choices were given unless the person and both parents were very fair complexioned. Nothing has changed today. President Obama is a Black man because his skin is dark. How would things have been different had he been fair skinned with a Black father?

    The world is looking at our nation now and saying that we are not the world leading nation we made ourselves out to be. We are a nation not unlike South Africa except that we had many high tech advantages they didn't. Jack Cafferty asked the other day if we are headed in the direction of becoming a Third World Nation. Well no we aren't. We already are a third world nation and it is not the nation that did it. What makes us a Third World Nation is our people. We have become as unruly, arrogant, mean, drug addicted society of people that are no longer abiding by our own rules and laws. We have allowed big business to come into our lives and rule for the sake of their greed and now they lead us in any direction they desire as long as it increases their profits. Today is a sad day in World History for today is one of the last days of our world as we, a civilized people, know it.

    September 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. Paul

    Well of course they're racist. There was no outcry over the last president's squandering of a budget surplus, and his increasing the national debt enormously. There was not outcry when he invaded a country that had absolutely no ties to 9/11. To see a social security and medicare receiving teabagger screaming about govt. assistance and socialism shows just how ignorant and intolerant these people are.

    Its not that they are against government handouts, they just don't want others (poor and minorities) getting the same benefits they are. I'm paying for these morons health care right now. Give up your government run health care and income, and then come talk to me.

    September 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. L.O.

    While racism certainly is the motivation for some Teabaggers, for most their motivation is simply stupidity and a desire to be part of the latest political freak show.
    The idiot conservatives became too accustomed to running the show during the Bush years. They reveled in Bush's stupidity and Cheney's evil and when faced with the fact that the nation has rejected them and their philosophy they are filled with rage and fear.
    They better get used to it.

    September 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. once upon a horse

    poor President Obama tries to play the nice guy too much and it's going to come back and bite him. He's tried to be mister nice with the GOP and they have closed their fist to his open hand. He has tried to be open to the far right and all they are trying to do is make him fail. And now he can't seem to see what part of this teabagger deal is all about. Maybe the WH is sheilding him from some of the racists signs, t-shirts, and chants that some of these people are doing. Mister President it's sad to say but some of these Americans do not like you because you are NOT WHITE and it doesn't take another Black person just to see it. Take off the rose colored glasses and see it what it really is. But then again I suppose the WH can't really come right out and say that.

    September 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Edward

    FYI the only empty suit was voted out of the Whitehouse last year. You know the one that Republicans were perfectly fine with when he was bailing people out and creating record debt due to spending money on a war we were lied into. Now all of a sudden a Democrat wants to spend money on Americans and they are taking to the streets. You can spend all the money you want on killingpeople and but spend money on making our country better and you're a socialist who spends too much. Reagan is their hero even though he ran up record deficits, raised taxes, made it possible for illegal immigrants to receive the emergency room care that we all have to pay for and had 12% unemployment. Did Republicans protest? No. He's a celebrated figure in their party. That should tell you something.

    September 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Tom C in NY

    to Lisa Meyers,

    We held an election last year; your side lost. Deal with it!

    September 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. Joe

    I think these guys are right to try and get their voices out. I mean some of them probably dont like a blackman in office but this isn't racisum. Im concerned about federal spending but even the motto Taxed enough already is BS. You will never bring down the deficit if you keep cutting taxes and still expect things like schools roads clean water to be provided. The real monster in you government is the Pentagon and defense you cut that back and we can cut spnding quick $44000 an hour to fly one fighter jet.

    September 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. JM

    CNN get your reporting right. I was at the tea party in DC yesterday and there were close to 1 Million people there, not tens of thousands. Just because we don't like the President's agenda does not mean we are racists. There was not talk of race at the tea party yesterday. The only mention of race yesterday I heard was from a woman who was driving bye the protest in a cab yelling at the protestors that we all hated american and are racist. So the only people bringing race into the debate is the liberals who have no knowledge of the thought process of those who protest.

    September 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Wanderer

    Obama is right. The movement was not motivated by racism, but the Tea Party is racist. The Tea Party does not represent the moderate Republicans, people like me (independent), or Democrats. They represent the CEO who paid them to protest and the CEO is supported by the extremists.

    September 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Scott

    I think we will find before this is all over how much racism still exists here in America. Before the wound can be healed, the puss must rise to the top.

    September 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Regressive Party Refugee (former republican)

    Oh, I don't know. Uncivil. Disrespectful. Regressive. Dangerous. Shrill. Misguided. Religiofascists. Emotionally driven. Ideologues. Misinformed. Stubbornly ignorant. Manipulated. Zombie-cons. Duplicitous. Morally conceited. Pavlovian. Tin foil hat party.

    Racist.

    Pick a term, all fit the modern day conservative.

    Where are the Eisenhower republicans, the people who earned respect instead of just demanding it?

    September 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Eileen

    The people of this country and not only right wing christian conservatives are waking up to Obama's agenda. Czars, Van Jones, ACORN. What is not to like about Obama? He was elected by stupidity and will go down in history as the worst president ever. He has no experience and it shows.

    September 13, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Of course it's racism. Conservatives can't come straight out and say we don't want a black man leading the country so they attack his policies and everything else they can think of. They aren't as subtle as they think and the rest of us are quite tired of their hate and ignorance.

    September 13, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Dave

    Should we be relieved that Obama doesn't believe, in this instance, that these dissenter are not racist? Will race always be a wild card to use against the opposition? Obama is our first truly racist president and wanna be dictator.

    September 13, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. richard

    Obama's correct. The major thrust of this tea bag stuff is the strong action taken to deal with our economic malaise. BUT with an undeniably racist element to it. How else can you get around the birthers, Obama is a Muslim, hysterical reaction to Obama speaking to students, etc? These arguments just don't stand on their own legs. I think they'll self destruct with this personal vitriol with evident racist undertones unless the movement can weed out this element.

    September 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. J of K

    Why is it that whenever someone DISAGREES with the great O they are called names: Racist, bigots, wingnuts, nazi, even anti american? It seems only the donkeycrats are allowed free speech. Obuma is a liar when he says what he does about deathcare plan. READ it for yourself – it will scare you. Don't just believe what politicians are saying.

    September 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. James

    All of this anti-government invective runs the risk of corroding the fundamental belief in our democratic, representative government. Listen people, the situation in the US today is NOT analogous to the British North American colonies in 1773. We have representation in our parliament.

    September 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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