March 7th, 2010
07:06 PM ET
8 years ago

Republicans reject controversial images of Obama, Pelosi


A page from an RNC PowerPoint presentation that surfaced last week contained cartoonish images depicting President Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - Top Republicans had harsh words Sunday for a leaked Republican National Committee document containing images skewering President Barack Obama and other top Democrats.

"There is no excuse for that type of stuff," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC's "Meet the Press." He added that he is "ashamed" of it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on ABC's "This Week," was asked whether such messaging is helpful. "I can't imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful," he responded.

The PowerPoint presentation described high-level Republican donors as "ego-driven" and claimed they could be enticed with "tchochkes." The document included a slide - titled "The Evil Empire" - with cartoonish images depicting Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.

Since the presentation was leaked to Politico, Republicans have been working to distance themselves from it.

Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele described the document as a presentation that "a staffer" put together for "a small group of about nine or ten folks and thought that they would intersperse the presentation with humorous shots.

The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, is expected to come out with an ad this week highlighting the controversy and the images that many consider offensive. The commercial asks, "Today's Republican Party: Is fear all they have left?" The DNC says the ad should start running on cable television in Washington and a few other markets beginning Monday or Tuesday.

Steele condemned the document, but would not say if disciplinary action would be taken against the official who created it.

McConnell, when asked Sunday by ABC whether someone should be held accountable, responded, "I don't run the RNC. That's up to them. But I don't like it, and I don't know anybody who does."

Hatch, on NBC, said, "I don't want to condemn somebody but the fact of the matter is I'm ashamed of that."

When asked whether Steele should lose his post, Hatch responded, "I don't think Michael Steele knew about that. If he did, I would be very concerned. I like Michael Steele."

He added, " He made mistakes like everybody does, but he's a good face for our party. I think he's articulate, he's smart, he has a lot on the ball. He's going to get criticized no matter what he does but he was one of the first to come out and say that was irresponsible."

Steele, in an interview Thursday with Fox News, did not say who was responsible for the document, but said he asked RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart "to get to the bottom of it." Reports suggest Bickhart was the
staffer who made the fundraising presentation to GOP donors in Boca Grande, Florida, last month.

"Those are images that were pulled off the Internet, they've been out in the public domain for a while, and you know, a staffer was putting together a presentation for a small group of about nine or ten folks and thought that they would intersperse the presentation with humorous shots," Steele said.

Doug Heye, the RNC communications director, told CNN on Thursday that there are no plans for either Bickhart or RNC Finance Chairman Peter Terpeluk to leave the committee as a result of the controversy.

-CNN's Peter Hamby, Mark Preston, and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Extra • Mitch McConnell • Orrin Hatch • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. maf

    Wow, that's really humorous! Images that have been out in the public domain for a while (and have been lambasted already), showing up in an RNC internal Powerpoint presentation??? Are you kidding us???
    Obviously NOT! The RNC continue to dig themselves into an even deeper hole with absolutely no idea what they are doing.

    Party wide talking points that are obstructionist and fearful, hypocritical statements from every GOP member every time they get in front of a microphone, misuse of the filibuster and opposition to the reconciliation tactic (one that they themselves used when it was convenient for their own lawmaking). Makes you wonder what they really stand for!

    Mid-terms are coming, as well as 2012. The Republicans aren't a part of bringing anything good to American citizens, they will find themselves without any part of government for a long time coming.

    March 7, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  2. Helen

    Rejecting it only in public.

    March 7, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  3. Babs

    Yes, they are all ashamed of it until backs are turned then they are laughing their heads off. What a despicable party they have become. Hatred, lies and non compliance is the new REPUBLICAN PARTY. What a joke politics have become at the peoples expense.

    March 7, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. liz

    A republican't with some shame? wow! that's a breakthrough. maybe they're beginning to evolve into functional human beings. next we'll hear they are starting to show signs of intelligence and compassion for their fellow human beings. almost gives me hope for the country's survival. but let's vote them all out anyway in case my musings are too far-fetched to ever become reality.

    March 7, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  5. jules sand-perkins

    As a Republican, I also found the entire concept of publishing degrading images of the President childish and unworthy of a party that was always "grand" in the best sense.
    Not to be outdone, the Democrats' publishing "is-fear-all-they-have" ads about the GOP makes me think that both parties are attempting to communicate with a new set of more simplistic, Twitter-trained voters.

    March 7, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  6. Larry L

    Time and time again the Republican shows themselves to be mean-spirited, closed-mind and intellectually challenged. Too often that defines "good Christians".

    March 7, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  7. Richard

    Seriously? Why should anyone be sorry about the images. Weren't people distributing pictures of Bush as ... now let me remember this one ... Hitler, the Joker, a vampire, etc. Where were the CNN articles then?

    March 7, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  8. JohnRJ08

    They're only upset because the documents were made public.

    March 7, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. carole

    I find it laughable that these Republicans are so quick to distance themselves when they so easily demagogue every issue and "make stuff up" rather than contributing to the legislative process.
    The politics of personal destruction has been the go-to method of winning elections for the Republicans since George H.W. Bush's
    campaign that Republicans ever since.
    As an independent, I can't say that Republicans have given me one good, BELIEVABLE reason to vote for them. I'm not one of the "dumb"
    ones that they can scare, nor am I an "ego-driven" big donor that they
    can manipulate.

    March 7, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. Annie

    Michael Steele was irresponsible because he was caught. This is torn from the regular republican playbook and is exactly the same old same old. Is anyone surprised? Now if only those tchotchke loving donors would wake up from their comas.

    March 7, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. lineman

    No one should be surprised by the contents of this Republican presentation. This just documents what everyone has seen happening. The message is put the Party first, last and always. If Obama and the country succeeds he gets reelected, if Obama and the country does not succeed he may lose. For the Republicans that is the end of the discussion.

    March 7, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  12. brian in denver

    Run, Republicans, Run!

    March 7, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  13. CR

    Hatch is only ashamed because they were caught. There is no ideological substance in the Republican Party, just ridiculous talking points. All the GOP has to peddle is fear, hatred, and selfishness. America does not need their brand of kookery.

    March 7, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. Robert

    So McConnell and Hatch are 'ashamed' of that presentation. Wonderful. How about the lies and accusations they make daily that foster and encourage that type of BS? You know, the death panel lies and crap like that????

    I don't believe they're the least bit ashamed about it. They are saying what they need to say because it came to light...

    March 7, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  15. once upon a horse

    very commendable reaction by the GOP...I just wish they had done the same thing when the Tea Party folks were holding racists signs about the president...shouting racists stuff and calling out the likes of Limbaugh and Beck when they do the same things. The reason is that those folks are their base and they fear upsetting them. Well base or not what is wrong is wrong and you can dislike the president and his admin all you want but there should be a line that can't be crossed. I'm glad to see some GOPers finally taking such a stand.

    March 7, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  16. The Lady

    One of the Republicans famous tricks, do it and then deny it.

    March 7, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. Four and The Door

    Yes. Mistakes were made. How could they not see that Harry Reid is absolutely Porky The Pig? Nancy as Pepe Le Piew and Barack is Bullwinkle? Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a $1 trillion out of my hat!

    March 7, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. Fed Up

    Are they upset about what is in the presentation ... or that it got leaked?

    March 7, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  19. Truth Hurts

    I was LMAO when I saw it.

    It was almost as funny as the ones the Democraps where sending around Bush and Cheney.

    March 7, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  20. Ellen

    It is indeed sad to see someone like Michael Steele with so little respect for himself that he would lend his face to this kind of thing. It's always the same old story when the Republicans get caught saying something particularly odious we are treated to a show of them falling all over themselves to deny any ill intent or blame the event on an underling. Mr. Steel, Take a lesson from Colin Powell, when the Republican party no longer sees an advantage to your black skin they will dump you too! You are there to take the fall if they need you to. I hope they have made it worth your while.

    March 7, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. Dennis

    And this while 15,000 Americans are losing their Healthcare every day and the Insurance companies are increasing premiums 30-70%. First we screwed by the Oil Companies, next the Banks and Wall Street and now the Insurance Companies. And by the way all are still collecting HUGE paychecks while they take taxpayers monies.

    Washington is only interested in lining the pockets of the wealthy so they can get their own pockets lined. If we are not willing to stand up and be heard, we deserve what we get. It is time to get Corporate America out of politics and focused on the customer.

    March 7, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. ran

    And people want to vote for Republicans. Why.

    March 7, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  23. Ken, AZ

    Once again the GOP is proclaiming faux outrage only because they got caught. Had their presentation not been found and exposed the republican game plan, McConnell, Steele, et al would gone along with the plan.

    March 7, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  24. liberal wing nut

    So what Pelosi is a liberal troll and needs to go back to bankrupt California where she belongs!

    March 7, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  25. paul

    It looks like Michael "UNCLE TOM" Steele did it again. He put his foot in his moiuth. Where in the hell does this guy come from, Pluto. He is a one man destruction derby for the Republican Party.

    March 7, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
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