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. Hall for Obama

    How would Steel know, he have his head so far up someone butt he can't even think black.

    September 16, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Patricia Dickson

    I agree with what Mr Carter said he's hundred percent right and honest its all Racism, next i dont know what Mr Bush is talking about he's does'nt have a clue because he doest not have the Qualification that President Obama have no way so cannot speak about him because i think Mr bush is one of the worest President of our time if he is going to speak please talk about how Mr Mc Cain disses him but not about this President who off to clean up his mess that he creates oh Please spare me he that is with out sin cast the first stone.

    September 16, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. historian

    Since President Obama was elected, several people in my neighborhood have surfaced as racists, one putting some very ugly, hateful bumper stickers on his truck. Former President Carter should give us his opinion as he understands what is happening.

    September 16, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. Jane

    This is absolutely ridiculous....so every time someone disagrees with policy he/she is racist!? Yeah...that's the way to run the country, call the "race card" each time or get someone to do it foer you. This is disgusting!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. Ossy

    This from an anti-semite. That's rich. Maybe Carter should look at his own part in creating some of this mess with Iran, Hamas, Palestine, etc.

    September 16, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. Rick from Murfreesboro, TN

    President Carter is just telling it like it is. The Republicans hate it because the truth hurts.

    September 16, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Steele: Why don't you just shut up. You are African American and also are being discriminated against. You just happened to confess to be a Republican. I am also an African American women and know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my race. You are a hypocite.
    You said the following: "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."

    Why is it when people tell the truth, its always a lie. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    September 16, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Mikey

    It would be better if President Carter did not make these comments. There is a reason President Obama downplays this every time it comes up. It's a no win situation for him and his Administration, no matter to what extent it may be true.

    Let's focus on the contiinuing economic recovery, trying to eliminate $900 billlion in annual health care waste, and extracting ourselves from Iraq and Afghanistan. That's enough for now and we have energy policy, global warming and a host of other issues waiting in the wings.

    As far as the behavior of the teabagger crowd, the general lack of class and basic respect for our country, its institutions, and many of its citizens are on full display for all to see.

    September 16, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  9. Georgia

    I am sure there are people who genuinely disagree with President Obama, as they would with any Democratic president as a matter of principle, but if Mr. Steele would come back from whatever planet he's phoning in from and read the the inflammatory comments posted on the internet far and wide, many of them in response to CNN articles, he would know that of course much of the out-of-control rage directed toward our President is racist. It is about the much-feared possibility of a biracial person with more than a drop of "black" blood in his veins actually succeeding in the White House. Maybe more people would take the Republicans' opposition seriously if so many of them were not so busy thinking up ridiculous issues - death panels and the President's birth certificate come to mind - to cloud reality and bring President Obama down at any cost. I do not agree with all of the President's decisions, but he is working hard for us in an extremely hostile environment. Shame on Mr. Steele and many other Republicans for not having the courage and honesty to name the racially motivated garbage being flung at the President for what it really is.

    September 16, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Annie, Atlanta

    President Carter is not playing the race card. He's just saying out loud what anyone with half a brain has been seeing here for months from town hallers to right wing radio and tv entertainers. Hopefully now that it's out in the open it can be dealt with in an intelligent manner. What's that comment about sunlight being the best disinfectant.

    September 16, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. sickman

    Carter is absolutely right on the point. Steele should not forget that they were some black confederates too. You can see racism in their eyes and statements like " take back our country". Do you have to be an expert to decode such statements?

    September 16, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Sam I Am

    It's about time people started talking frankly about what is going on. We can't deal with the problems of race and bigotry if we don't meet them head on. While there are no doubt people in the Tea Parties and Town Hall meetings who are there because they simply disagree with Obama and the Democrats, it's also pretty clear that there are a lot of people there simply because they can't stand having an African American president. This problem, and these people need to be called out for what they are. There is no place in this country, in the 21st Century, for this kind of stupidity.

    September 16, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. L. Song

    That's right, the republicans can be as racist as they want to – showing up armed at Obama speeches like little terrorists, shouting kill him at their rallies, printing fliers of him in black-face, and throwing so much hatred around that I feel like I am choking to death every time I read the news. But if a clear-headed man of integrity calls them on it – HE is 'playing the race card.' Carter is not 'playing' he is telling it like it is.

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. bern

    What's pathetic is RNC Chairman Michael "Uncle Michael" Steele.

    President Carter is right and the entire world knows it.

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. Agree Totally

    Sadly to say, former President Carter hit the nail on the head!!! Since the election, the true colors of mainly evil spirited Republicans have come out in the worst kind of ways. Its a shame that most of them do so while claiming to be Christian. WOW, now that is a stretch!!! They really need a refresher in Christian love because all I have seen pure HATE!!! Politics has nothing to do with the antics of recent months. There is no other way to describe the atomosphere seen and it has to do with RACE.....no matter how you slice it!!!!

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Colorado Female

    You're kidding! This guy is a realist and calling it what it is. He has nothing to gain from this. CNN when are you going to start reporting from the Democratic perspective? Lately your articles begin with 'Republican....'. Make it equal. That would be helpful so that citizens can make informed decisions about your reporting.

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  17. Tim in NC

    ...and now we see EXACTLY why the Republicans put Steele where he is. So HE can respond to any racial accusations leveled by the Democrats.

    How does it feel to be a tool Mr. Steele?

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  18. Darron R. Brown MD

    I agree with former President Carter. The images on display at the Republican-led demonstration on the Capital lawn last week were racist. Also, any US Senator that doesn't understand that the Confederate flag represents slavery is either very stupid or very racist.

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. Larry

    If the Republicans want to discuss causing distractions so as to not have to deal with the real issues of this country

    They must all still be narcissistic-ally looking in their mirrors

    Please tell me the last time they did ANYTHING positive for this country or our people ...

    Can't think of one ??

    I didn't think so

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. Tim in NC

    …and now we see EXACTLY why the Republicans put Steele where he is. So HE can respond to any racial accusations leveled by the Democrats.

    How does it feel to be a tool Mr. Steele?

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. Mike

    Seriously, is there anyone who cares what this simpleton has to say except for the radical left limp wristed liberal bed wetters? He is the worst President in our history only to be soon surpassed by the current President.

    September 16, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Minu, NC

    Michael Steele is ignorant to what's happening at his doorstep and instead of having dialogue to help quell the issue, he indirectly encourages it. The People aren't idiots, we know blatant racism when we see it and these rallies and protests have more to do than just policies. President Carter is definitely right.

    September 16, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. Lillie

    Pres. Carter is right.....even a few racist are far too many in 2009! Race is the elephant in the ROOM and to deny it is WRONG! Come on Freedom Works, Tea Baggers, Birthers, and Glen Becks/Fox News flock and see that you're destroying this great country.....this is my country that I love, although Founding Fathers' laid down the foundation without seeing me and my ancestors as full human beings!!! More importantly, I am a veteran who served honorably our country for 25 years....most Pundits/Race baiters/haters have never served one day yet they spew patriotism/OUR country as they wave our beautiful flag! Come on People, wake up and see some protesters for what they really ARE!!

    Rush/Hannity/Glen Beck's, etc., should be ashamed of themselves....spewing racists hatred while being paid millions of dollars over PUBLIC AIRWAVES for doing it....SHAME! ENOUGH is ENOUGH!! A boycott is in order for these radio talk shows and FOX Cable NEws because it's obvious that most folks listening and watching aren't able to see through it all because of their ingrained after birth biases......no one is BORN a racist!

    September 16, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Diane Keichinger

    Carter is right,its about time some body said it. You can feel it.
    Steele is the spoke that sat by the door, the Republicans are
    using him to attack Obama to make it seem like its not racial.
    If the Republican wanted to include blacks they could have done
    so along time ago not when we have a black President, then
    lets put a black agains a black let him do the dirty work, its
    looks better. Wake up STEELE your being used.

    September 16, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Just my own 2 cents...

    There's no place for racism in this country – period.

    That being said... when the accusation of racism is thrown around unfettered, the true meaning becomes watered down to the point where people become desensitized to true racism.

    Does racism exist? Well, to say otherwise would be disingenuous. Does it exist? Yes... from ALL sides. Is it as prevalent as the accusations? From the depths of my heary, I pray not.

    September 16, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
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