September 16th, 2009
11:37 AM ET
5 years ago

Republicans say Carter playing 'race card'

 Republicans say Carter is playing the 'race card.'
Republicans say Carter is playing the 'race card.'

(CNN) - The Republican National Committee is hitting back at former President Jimmy Carter's recent comments stating racial politics has played a role in some of the opposition the president has faced since taking office and in South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during Obama's speech to Congress last week.

"President Carter is flat out wrong. This isn't about race. It is about policy," RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement Wednesday. "This is a pathetic distraction by Democrats to shift attention away from the president's wildly unpopular government-run health care plan that the American people simply oppose."

"Injecting race into the debate over critical issues facing American families doesn't create jobs, reform our health care system or reduce the growing deficit. It only divides Americans rather than uniting us to find solutions to challenges facing our nation," Steele, the RNC's first African-American chairman, also said.

Carter's comments came in an interview with NBC News Tuesday, during which he stated, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American."

Carter made similar remarks at an event at his presidential center in Atlanta, Georgia, pointing to some protesters who have compared Obama to a Nazi. "Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," the former president said at the Carter Center, according to AP. "It's deeper than that."

Steele said such comments are indicative of Democratic efforts to "disparage all who disagree with them."

"Playing the race card shows that Democrats are willing to deal from the bottom of the deck. Our political system has no place for this type of rhetoric," said Steele.

(Steele will visit The Situation Room Wednesday afternoon at 5 pm ET)

Follow Alex Mooney on Twitter @awmooneycnn


Filed under: Jimmy Carter • RNC
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Big Red

    The liberal left is now playing the race card. This has nothing to do with race, but has everything to do with our deep resentment of government interference/takeover of our lives. This has everything to do with putting such a burden on my kids and my grandkids that they will not be able to have a better life than I had. Race? RACE? Are you kidding?! If any label of "racist" needs to be placed, it should be placed at the feet of those screaming it the loudest. How absolutely incredulous it is that when the liberal left runs out of answers to legitimate questions, they resort to name calling and pull the race card! My God, Americans. WAKE UP!

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. KEL

    JC just be speaking the unspoken truth

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. ICARE

    A non-white President NEEDS to be shown the same respect all WHITE president has been shown. This is the ONLY STANDARD that we all should go by.

    After he's done talking, elephants can kick him and scream and do whatever they need to do, and I wouldnt care. They have done it to Billy Clinton. I dont care if they do it to Obie. He needs it. He works well under pressure.

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. Matt, Manchester, CT

    Carter, like the rest of them, hope to do nothing more than silence people through these outrageous racism charges. What's next? This President, known for his wildly famous presidency and re-election campaign, falls in line with all of his fellow liberals in standing up for the right to free speech as long as it follows his own opinions to a "t." Any deviation means you must be some kind of racist or social neanderthal. Go back to Georgia.

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Ina

    I agree with former President Carter. Racism is hard to prove but it is very real. The republicans breed racism by their continued opposition to what the democrats are doing.One example is the attitude displayed by Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Of course he is doing it all in a knifing way, but all racists behave that way. The republicans hate everything which is democratic as it is, but former President Clinton, nor Carter have had disrespect shown such as what we see now. To disrespect our elected President is anti-american, hatefull, spitefull, and leads to more hate among everybody. UNACCEPTABLE!

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. Mic

    Dear Mr. Carter
    Sir, I have attended tea party protest a couple of times. And sir let me tell something about myself. I'm in a interacial marraige my wife ,and I are very offened by what you said. We disagree on Obama spending money like a druken sailor. We disagree on CAP AND TAX which is really a tax increase. We disagree on Obama breaking the constitution 10 th amendment. So to CNN and Mr. Carter my family is racial mix. Please stop calling us racist. We just don't like soicalist.

    September 16, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Fancysmiley from Conyers

    Presidednt Carter isn't playing the race card – he is merely stating a fact. People are afraid to say what's truly on their mind. It has become quite clear that race has become a huge factor ever since Obama took office. Just accept it for what it is and move on. Just because one disagrees with President Obama, it doesn't automatically make them a racist however, there are MANY people out there who dislike this man and disagrees with everything he does simply because he's an African-American. It is what it is. People just need to stop hiding how they truly feel and maybe we can move on from this.

    September 16, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. George the Democrat Obama fanatic.

    As a black man and Obama supporter I have to fight against the tendency to assume that any white person that opposes Obama is racist. Some people actually do not agree with his policies and thats fine. But when that disagreement is expressed in a disrespectful mannor as Rep Wilson did, then it tends to become racially motivated in my eyes.

    September 16, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. jay

    How is it possible to oppose Mr. Obama and the other AA executives in the states? Patterson of NY, Mass. governnor Patrick have recently statede that opposition to them was based not on policy, but on race. So now thinking that a politican who is black is wrong is racist? So anyone who is white cannot be critical of a black politician? Seems to me to be a ploy to shut up the opposition.

    September 16, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. George the Democrat Obama fanatic.

    ------------------------------

    As a black man and Obama supporter I have to fight against the tendency to assume that any white person that opposes Obama is racist. Some people actually do not agree with his policies and thats fine. But when that disagreement is expressed in a disrespectful mannor as Rep Wilson did, then it tends to become racially motivated in my eyes.

    September 16, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. Edgar

    Disagreement =/= Hate+Disrespect

    Of course there are a lot of people who are against Pres Obama only because of his policies/ideology. But there are some whose opposition is rooted in bigotry/racism. You can disagree because you can, but deep down even YOU know this is true.

    September 16, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. zago

    Those who can't see race in this debate are really arrogant or they are themselves fiercely racist. Why not a healthy opposition to the president's policies? Why the Tea Partiers have to portray the president as monkey, joker and claim their country back and someone can't see race in it. As per Lou Dobb of CNN, it's easier to claim that a black man was not born in the US since he looks different. Therefore, he's the other one and thus responsible for all the calamities of the country while he's trying to fix them.

    They don't want to understand complex issues such as how the economy works and what will keep it on the go. It's easier to make it about one man who looks different than discussing policies.

    September 16, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. The Party of No

    >>Steele said such comments are indicative of Democratic efforts to "disparage all who disagree with them."

    Now there's a well used Republican tactic.

    The fact is that Wilson has a personal history that suggests that he may have some racist attitudes. The fact is that the first time such an incident has happened in the House, it's him yelling at the first Black President.

    The fact is that much of the anti-health-care reform debate has been directed at the President and not at the issues.

    Carter has a lot of basis to bring him to his conclusions.

    September 16, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. steven harnack

    Carter's comments are very relevent towards finding some explanation for all of the irrational lies and hate emanating from the opposition.The neo-con melding of government and big business is the very definition of facism but Pres. Obama is called a Nazi? Mainsstream Republican support of birthers and such? Until some other rational explaination comes forward I have to believe Carter.

    September 16, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Jane

    I find it amazing that Mr Steele of all people cannot detect latent racism in some of the actions of protestors. President Carter did not say it was in all protests.

    The GOP – the party of primarily older, Southern, white people. You're not helping your cause at all!

    September 16, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Bryee

    While there are some red-neck Americans and WASPS who bemoan "what America has come to" and sees Obama's presidency as "America's shame", their blinding bigotry and crippling prejudice disables them from seeing that Obama's phenomenal rise to prominence in the American political system is a vindication of the long-espoused libertarian and democratic values of America; it is a fulfilment of John Winthrop's City on a Hill metaphor. The black man's walking away with the coveted Democratic Party prize is not just Obama's moment; it is America's moment.

    September 16, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Fancysmiley from Conyers

    And furthermore, Michael Steele is a fool who doesn't know when he's being used. He has no credibility whatsoever. I don't say this because he's a Black Republican, I could care less but because he is naive beyond anyone's imagination. If people would just step back and look at things objectively, they'd see with whom and where the issues lie.

    September 16, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. Tony in Maine

    Of course they say that. That is answer # 32 from the Republican playbook.

    Were it not for the hatred, the shrieking, the spittle and deranged expressions, I'd agree this is a simple matter of dissent. But, the howls from the right are more than dissent, they far exceed anything heard during Mr. Bush's tenure. A competent prosecutor could send him and half his cabinet to prison for war crimes. The word "liar" was not used by liberal politicians or pundits to describe Bush's prevaricating- he was carefully given the out of having been misunderstood, having misspoken, been given bad advice. What's going on now is based on hatred and fear giving birth to rage. It isracism.

    To say it is not is a lie.

    September 16, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. Bill R in Oakland

    The comeback from Michael Steele and others in the GOP that "injecting race into the debate over critical issues" is a distraction from solving these issues is becoming very tiresome. We heard the same thing from John Boehner about the resolution to admonish Rep. Joe Wilson. This argument might actually have some merit IF the Republicans demonstrated they were interested in solving these issues by putting forth some ideas rather than being the party of outbursts and "NO".

    September 16, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Roger

    I agree! Joe Wilson isn't a racist. He is a stupid, obnoxious bully with no communication skills. Pure and simple while Joe Wilson is no racist, he just doesn't have a lot going on upstairs. Only in South Carolina could someone so stupid be elected.

    September 16, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. Jim in Florida

    I guess the criticism of Jimmy Carter, when he was President, couldn't have been racism , since he is, of course, a white man.

    Must have been based on the fact that Carter is an idiot.

    September 16, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. Larry

    Jimmy Carter is one of the most sincere people that the White House has ever seen

    His efforts have ALWAYS been for the betterment of this country and the world

    HE KNOWS WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT ...

    And speaks only the truth

    September 16, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  23. landscapebear

    Steele should talk! the only reason he is chairman of the RNC is because he is black and the rethuglicans wanted to show america they accept african americans...it's so transparent Ray Charles can see that the GOP has always played and will continue to play the race card every time: it energizes their base.

    September 16, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  24. The Peanut Farmer Again ??

    How did Carter ever get elected to anything? He was a drip in the 70s, and he's still a drip.

    September 16, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  25. Proud Vet

    It is difficult to address Steele's position because it is such an ignorant one. Steele should read some history books. Many of the policies that his party has supported in the past are indicative of the fact that his party is not an inclusive one. Instead of accusing others of playing the race card, he should ask himself why his party has so few members who are from minority groups. Why did his party have so few minorities attend the Republican convention last fall? Why is it that elected officials in his party continue to support Rush Limbaugh even when he is obviously out of line? I am a former Rebublican and I think that the GOP is no longer grand, it is just old and out of touch. Either it needs to change direction or it needs to fade into history.

    September 16, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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