Carter: Gingrich's 'subtle words' have racist appeal
January 18th, 2012
03:21 PM ET
6 years ago

Carter: Gingrich's 'subtle words' have racist appeal

(CNN) – Former President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday charged Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich with crafting his campaign message in a way that speaks to prejudice.

"I wouldn't say he's racist, but he knows the subtle words to use to appeal to a racist group," the former Democratic president said in an interview set to air on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

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Gingrich has taken heat this election cycle from African American groups over making comments perceived by some as racially insensitive.

Carter pointed to the former House speaker's argument that children, particularly in urban areas, could learn a strong work ethic by working janitorial jobs in their schools.

And at a campaign stop in New Hampshire this month, Gingrich said he was prepared to go to the NAACP convention and talk about "why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps."

Civil rights groups, including the NAACP, responded to Gingrich's remarks, calling them "divisive" and "problematic on several fronts."

On Wednesday, Carter said Gingrich's experience as a former congressman from Georgia prepared him to use rhetoric that would be more popular in the South, including within certain constituencies in South Carolina, a state that holds its presidential primary on Saturday.

Carter said Gingrich uses terms about welfare "that have been appealing in the past, in those days when we cherished segregation of the races."

"So he's appealing for that in South Carolina, and I don't think it'll pay off in the long run," Carter added.

Gingrich's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The full interview will air Wednesday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" at 9 p.m. ET.

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Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Jimmy Carter • Newt Gingrich • TV-Piers Morgan
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. tom clements

    Why would anyone get upset at teaching our children the value of work. I hope he didn't mean ONLY black kids should get to learn this most important lesson. We do have a food stamp president so that is a non issue.

    January 18, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Hey LOOK!! It's the former Worst-President-in-USA-History!! Now a senile old leftist that doesn't know anything better than how to play the race card for everything. He was an incompetent fool in the 70's and absolutely NOTHING has changed.

    January 18, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Gurgi

    Way to throw the race card carter. I guess he is worried about losing his standing of worst president in history to Obama, so he keeps going out in public and make a fool of himself.

    January 18, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Non racist

    Can it Jimmy, this election isn't about race !
    If he is using racial undertones it is to atrack the old Democrats. I know coming from a small town that is still a solid Democrat stronghold 80% of them are racists. You can here it every day.

    January 18, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. bawana

    you rethugs are idiots,,,don't even know when someone is being racist,,,newt doesn't even know,,,,that's how stupid you are

    January 18, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. hilroy

    That is why the US will always be the wayit is and that is racist. These guys will always use blacks to appeal to the racist element. Did not Gen. Colin Powell of all people called the US a racist country afew years back? It is the truth and let's face it. This is just the smoke before the coming election.We will soon seperate the hard core racists from the not so racists. has any of these guys look at the employment rate for blacks? I have alot of friends and none of them are on food stamps but are hard working supporting their families and paying their bills.

    January 18, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. stop crying

    as soon as somebody calls out "RACISM!!!!" when it is not clearly and obviously racism, that person loses all credibility. every time. the liberals apparently dont like the idea of people supporting themselves instead of getting a check from the government.

    January 18, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. The Elephant In The Room


    Really ? We have a food-stamp President? The honest truth is we have a food-stamp economy brought to us not by Mr. Obama but rather by No. 43.

    Beyond that, 30 years of income inequality policies by GOP presidents have put many of our armed forces servicemen on food stamps during the best of times but I suppose you`l convince yourself that is Barack`s fault too, eh?

    Finally, yeah all children should know the value of education and a strong work ethic. But as of of many thousands of black overachievers in this country that I know personally, I find the sanctimonious arrogance of people who want to put a "black" face on this laughable on one hand and etremely telling about their character on the other.

    January 18, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |

    Jimmy's a southerner just like Newt, so don't say he's playing the race card. Newt is though. The best "food stamp president" ever? Really? After BUSH'S Recession, and all the jobs under lost under BUSH, of course more people are on food stamps.

    January 18, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. GrogInOhio

    Appallingly ignorant comments so far... SC still has the confederate flag of treason as its state flag. Newt is slick enough to read between the lines. To those defending him... what exactly about cleaning toilets will improve these children's academic performance or educational future? The majority of food stamp recipients are white... why does the NAACP need Newt to tell them to ask for a paycheck instead? Racist blathering that was dated in the 1970's.

    January 18, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. JohnW

    @Truth and Nothing But the Truth
    Former worst? Iffy at best, but it would definitely be former since we all remember W.

    January 18, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  12. Thor

    As hysterical as Mr Carter has been over some very obscure issues, I must agree with him. Here we go again with a white wealthy Catholic Southern bigot. .... .... where oh where are you Hillary?

    January 18, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. V Hawley

    The only people that are "Racist" are those that call others "Racist". I am sick of hearing someone is racist just because he/she desires to make minorities (all colors and types) more productive and less dependent on Gov. If that makes someone a racist, then count me in. The only people that are truly discriminated against are Caucasians. Especially the males!

    January 18, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. Independent Voters

    Newt is putting down poor people and blacks. SC have a confederate flag flying over the capitol were the republican debate was held. We dont need no racist president.

    January 18, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. sonny chapman

    Jimmy Carter, like myself, is a Southerner through & through. We know what things are said behind closed doors or that are intimated in the public to the delight of many so called "Christians".

    January 18, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. Winghunter

    Obama has spent more and lost more jobs than any president in American history! To pretend to deny it is psychotic!

    January 18, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. sonny chapman

    To those who call themselves "Christian" but who hate Jimmy Carter, you'd have also hated Jesus if you had lived during his time.

    January 18, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Jariv

    Gingrich said black kids. In the debate, he changed what Juan Williams said and made it seem as if it wasn't racist. Maybe he isn't but he wont win General Election when does clips are made. He is OUT !!!! Now !!!!

    Vote Romney !!!

    January 18, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  19. junior

    The same people who want to see the smartest guys in politics today (Obama and Newt) facing each other in a series of debates want ALL kids to be able to work a few hours a week to learn some valuable life lessons and this is racist. Democrats elitists are too focused on telling others what to do. this will be their downfall.

    January 18, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    President Carter was being polite. The frequent use of code words and dogwhistle appeals to the racists is far from subtle. And it's the vast majority of the GOBP deathcult doing this, not just Newt. Newt is just out in front spinning up the racists before Rove pays him off to endorse Flipper the Elitist Robot. The GOBP deathcult faces shrinking demographic support so it has to keep the many racists in the fold. Without the racist vote, the deathcult is doomed. Were gonna see the Southern Strategy on steroids this year.

    January 18, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Woman In California

    Right AGAIN you are Mr. Carter. You would have made a much BETTER president than the actor turned president Ronald Reagan. Thank you for your terrific service to our country.

    January 18, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. maudo

    I was a bit puzzled why Mr. Gingrich didn't say poor people instead of black people – we are all americans and he shldn't try to divide the nation by making it seem that all black people are on foodstamps. I am black and extremely hardworking, own my home, college educated and so is my husband. We are great savers like our parents thought us, knowing that we should save for days of need. I also know a lot of black and white people who refuse to use foodstamps because of the stigma even though they are in need of it. In any event I am very dissppointed the way in which Mr. Gringrich lumped black people together as if they're all on foodstamps, that is wrong and deceptive. Sometimes I feel so despondent when I hear so called intelligent individuals make remarks that is demeaning to another race we are all human beings in the sight of God. I have a son we are giving him the proper tools to weave his way through this complicated world. I didn't have the history of African american with the slave stuff and all, even though I think they should let it go by now but, how can they, when politician keeps belittlling them with subtle inferences to take them back to those dreadful days. I pray to God for this nation and for its inhabitants to see each other as God's creation, knowing all are equal in his sight.

    January 18, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. catmom

    V Hawley, you , Newt and all you other right wingers presume that only black people or other minorities are less productive and dependent on the government and that is far from the truth. Newt was trying to appeal to the racist base of the Republican Party. It is exactly what Sarah Palin was used to do. The one thing though is most people not blinded by prejudice and unreasonable hatred for our President knows exactly what is happening. You people can keep denying the racisim that is apparent and you can also keep denying the accomplishments President Obama has made, but you can't rewrite history.

    January 18, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Sorensen

    Of course Carter is right on. The old, "catholic" adulterer is not fooling anybody except himself.
    Not that it matters. He has been finished for a long time.

    January 18, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    One of Gingrich's supporters (just on TV) said "Thank you for putting that man - in his place".


    We ALL know what that means, even outside SC, MS, AL, GA, and TX.

    January 18, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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