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

Republicans reject controversial images of Obama, Pelosi

ALT TEXT

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. Nosey Canadians should mind their own business

    I thank the republicans for all the fine video that will be used this coming election.

    March 7, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  2. JOE

    The BOTOX QUEEN looks like she just swallowed some thing that should be disposed of in a bathroom..

    March 7, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  3. bobby

    Yeah right ...apologize after the horse is out of the barn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Such a bunch of children, its no wonder nothing is done in Washington.Disgusting kids' games so typical of our elected officials...on both sides unfortunately.GROW UP GENTLEMEN and I use that term very loosely. America is not impressed. This guy Steele is a real winner!

    March 7, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  4. jimmm

    What took them so long? You can bet if a Dem operative did something like, the Limbaughs of the worlds would be all over the Dems to disavow these types of activities.

    March 7, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  5. KC

    The GOP only denounces the images because they got caught and they are embarassed because of how childish they look. But deep down in side this is how they feel...they party of hate and fear = the Republican party. Sad, but true...

    March 7, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  6. ShiWms in AZ

    Hatch is an instigator. He's only out to save skin – GOP's skin.

    March 7, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  7. Triple A

    Nice to see the Republicans come right out and denounce this, though it should not have happened in the first place. I agree with the Republicans in this article 100%

    March 7, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  8. paul

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

    March 7, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. indir

    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.

    March 7, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Cartoon images? There goes the RNC playing with crayons again.

    March 7, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. Jeffc6578

    I love it. Blame a "staffer".
    These scum bags have been peddling fear for years and years, and they have NO ideas.
    It's so nice to see them squirm for being caught.

    March 7, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. ja

    the tone (negativism) was set during the campaign and daily on cheap talk radio and television shows

    March 7, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  13. JOE

    Obama is the BIGGEST ACTOR of all time.....They should nominate hiim for a super Academy Award....He can play any role from Adolph Hitler to a Nun...

    March 7, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  14. RAG

    "... Republicans have been working to distance themselves from it."

    Read, "Cockroaches run for the crevasses when the light comes on ..."

    March 7, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. historian

    This is absolutely disgusting. There just doesn't seem to be an end of Republican cruelty, viciousness, malice. spitefulness and nastyness. People I talk to at social functions simply don't like this type of politicking and don't plan to vote for Republicans this fall.

    March 7, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. Pelosi is a see-you-en-tea

    Harry "Rut Roh Raggy" Reid....HaHaHaHaHa....I love it!

    March 7, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  17. John

    Why should anyone be surprised!

    March 7, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  18. STORYBURN

    Obama is giving America the finger over this health bill and listens to the public sentiment like my three year old listens to his parents – only when it serves his ego and interest

    March 7, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  19. vette gal

    This is just one of the many reasons I'm not a registered republican anymore. Personally, I don't want to be associated with a group of people that are so childish.......

    and, of course, the republicans are distancing themselves, they don't want to lose being re-elected. Too bad we can't get them to vote for term limits so they wouldn't have jobs for life. On the other hand, if we vote any incumbent out of office after 8 years, it's the same as term limtis.

    March 7, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  20. Kevin

    The fact that Mr. Steele in discussing this refers to these as "humorous" shots is disgusting. The fact that neither McConnell or Hatch have the cojones to stand up and say that the leader of the organization should resign, even (or especially) if didn't know about it. The fact that a staffer feels this is legitimate, means that the RNC and the whole GOP has legitimized this action. They legitimize attacks on IRS offices with their hate speech, their talk of secession and their general obstructionism.

    This has got to stop. I've long felt that we need multiple parties, now I see that we are becoming a government of one party. The GOP is just so irrelevant anymore. And though I'm a Democrat, we as a country need an intelligent counterbalance.

    So I ask this... where are the intelligent Republicans? Is it true that all you have left is fear?

    March 7, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. Lib

    This is why I would never vote for a Republican. Sure you have some who are claiming to be upset about th cartoon, but I don't believe them. This is also why they did not win the elections and will continue to lose. Most people in this country may not agree with all that the President says but atleast they are respectfully disagreeing. That is not so with republicans, Limbaugh, Palin, and all the rest of the ignorant republicans.

    March 7, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. Tom B

    The only reason Republicans are distancing themselves from this is because it was made public. While the democratic leadership is frequently idiotic, the Republican leadership is evil, full of hate, and purely self-interested. What a choice we have as Americans... Let's do better!

    March 7, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. phil denton

    Am I surprise –NO
    Am I shocked-NO
    Seems pretty normal to me for the RHC.

    March 7, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. Peter Vaguely

    The Republicans can try to distance themselves from their own power point presentation but they can't distance themselves from their own dismal record of non cooperation on every issue of import that has come before them this year. Their actions speak louder, even than their own tasteless multi media presentation. Shame!

    March 7, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  25. jbakaregit

    They only thing they are worried about is that they got caught.

    If anybody saw the tea party rallies (GOP network Fox News sponsored & promoted it + former Freedom Works lobbyist Dick Armey funded it), they would have seen the exact same signs.

    They are embarrassed b/c the truth came out in black and white on what has always been their strategy (fear) and what they think about their own supporters (easily manipulated, gullible, & ego-driven, which they are).

    So now we know from their own mouths what their 2010 election strategy is: fear (socialism, big gubmint left-wing policies, marxism, take your pick). And now we know to disregard them and vote Democrat or Independent come November and beyond.

    March 7, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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