March 25th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
3 years ago

Plouffe calls out GOP candidates over Obama reaction

Washington (CNN) – "Reprehensible." "Irresponsible." "Hard to stomach."

White House senior adviser David Plouffe did not mince words Sunday when talking about the reaction by Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to President Barack Obama's comments on the Trayvon Martin shooting.

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"Those two comments are really irresponsible. I would consider them reprehensible," Plouffe said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think those comments were really hard to stomach, really, and I guess trying to appeal to people's worst instincts."

While the GOP presidential candidates said the incident was a tragedy, Santorum and Gingrich were particularly critical of the president's response to the shooting in which Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by a George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense.

A somber Obama on Friday commiserated with the Martin family and urged authorities to fully investigate the shooting.

"If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," Obama said. "I think (his parents) are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we will get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Santorum said the president politicized the events, while Gingrich characterized Obama's comments as "nonsense."

"What the president of the United States should do is try to bring people together, not use these types of horrible and tragic individual cases to try to drive a wedge in America," Santorum said Friday on "The Hugh Hewitt Show," a radio program.

"Is the president suggesting if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it wouldn't look like him? That's just nonsense," Gingrich said Friday on conservative host Sean Hannity's radio show, "The Hannity Show." "I mean dividing this country up, it is a tragedy this young man was shot."

But Plouffe, who served as Obama's 2008 campaign manager, said the Republican reaction is evidence of a circus-like primary.

"I don't think there's very many people in America that would share that reaction. You know, this Republican primary at some points has been more of a circus show and a clown show," Plouffe told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Although he indicated the Obama campaign expects Romney to be the Republican nominee, Plouffe also predicted an aggressive election come fall.

"Romney has a big delegate lead so we've always felt you know because Romney's won a couple of big states lately, the fundamentals kind of support him," Plouffe said. "But it's going to be a close competitive race no matter who come out the other side."

Also see:

Santorum's Louisiana win does little to change the game of delegate math

‘Math isn’t adding up,’ Gingrich delegate says

Santorum video: 'Obamaville' is a house of horrors

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. vrajavala

    Obama should tell Rev Al and Jesse to back off, and, especially call off thr NBP reward for the Hispanic dude.

    March 25, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. dd

    What has Obama done to stop the child murders in Chicago? NOTHING- same as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Blacks can murder Blacks in Chicago-

    March 25, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  3. NameSteve

    Unfortunately, this tragedy has become a freak show for all the political freaks. They're coming out of the woodwork. All of them.

    But I wonder why Obama sought to comment on this act of violence but remained silent while the drum major of Florida A&M was beaten to death by his own band mates.

    Odd........

    March 25, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Dennis Freeman

    Don't you just love these faux-Christians?

    March 25, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. lib

    Thankyou Mr. President for bein a father and husband FIRST. Thank you for being a human being first. And in regard to racism. we all know which party represents racisim, the GOP. Just listen to the woman on the shooting range tell santorum to shoot like it's president Obama, The whole GOP party represent violence in this country.Electing a president who has pictures taken with guns sends a very negative message to the youth in this country. How can we condemn our youth for violence when our leaders represent violence. If you have guns and use the shooting range that should be done privately. Santorum was showing off. I congratulate president Obama for representing the family life we should have in this country.

    March 25, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. Jack

    So then Obamba has approved the bounty the black activist group has put on the head of a man not yet charged with a crime.. so what will happen when the blacks corner this guy and shoot him dead... will the blacks be charged with a crime.... nah.. they'll get a lift to the White House... this is the beginning of a race war that this president has been pushing to at least the past 20 years.

    March 25, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. toucheami

    What’s with President Obama? He should be showing leadership, not fanning the flames. He should be calling for calm, ask citizens to show restraint in judgment until all the facts are known. I guess it’s his very divisive nature and character that gets in the way...his behavior is shameful! We do need a full investigation in this case…get ALL the facts before reacting to half baked press releases, or politicians like Obama hoping for political gain at the cost of this tragedy.

    March 25, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  8. Jack

    What a royal mess this is causing..

    March 25, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. jason

    this was a tragedy but we should unite and fight against what happened instead of riducling the candidates and the president for what they said. We need to pray for the families that were invovled. Unite against evil!!

    March 25, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. Bill

    The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 25% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -16

    March 25, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. lib

    @truthfulster, if I was being followed and harrassed at night for doing nothing but walking down a public street, I WOULD TURN AROUND AND PROTECT MYSELF ALSO!! This kid was afraid. He had a right to protect himself since he was not doing anythng wrong. Zimmerman also outweighted Trayvon by many pounds. Zimmerman should have gotten back in his truck when the police told him NOT TO FOLLOW! Also, if Trayv on was fighting him, Zimmerman had NO RIGHT to shoot an unarmed young BOY! IDIOT!!!!!! Zimmerman was wrong for following Martin.

    March 25, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Scef

    Newt or any other on the right cannot twist this comment on a literal basis because Pres Obama's mother and grandparents look just like them.

    March 25, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. Lori

    Why did I know, PREDICT that the Republicans would turn President Obama's comments into something negative??? Gingrich and Santorum are pandering to those in their party who want to paint the President as a "reverse racist" This is not about defending Zimmerson (who is hispanic and we all know how Republicans feel about hispanics) but an attempt to twist Obama's words and turn the Trayvon Martin case into a "black issue". Notice how Romney is keeping his mouth shut. Smart move. I'm a white woman who is personally offended by Santorum and Gingrich's rebuttals about Obama's genuine comment about the case because Trayvon could be MY SON- he is all of ours sons!!!!!!! Wake up America. We can't afford to have ignorant people like Gingrich or Santorum in the White House. Just another reason why I went from Independent to Democrat this last election.

    March 25, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. No one

    "some points" have been a circus? their symbol is already an elephant
    in one corner a religious zealot
    in another an unfaithful adulterer
    in another is the sum of what their circus act created, but no one seems to want, who will literally say anything as long as it plays to the audience he's in front of
    and the last corner doesn't belong anymore(probably because the party became a circus)

    March 25, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. p

    Leave it to the haters to try to make political hay out of this. Thank God the US citizens with more open minds (and hearts) have you guys WAY outnumbered...

    March 25, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. palin in 2013

    @toucheami: here are the facts. an unarmed, 17 year-old, 140lb black boy was shot my an armed man who actively stalked him even when the 911 operator told him not to, to wait for police. Trayvon Martin's killer should have showed restraint, not president Obama in talking about the tragedy. The fact that a black boy in a hoodie "looks like he's causing trouble" for no other reason than he's a black boy in a hoodie, is something that deserves the nation's outrage. toucheami, maybe take a look in the mirror this morning and write about what you see

    March 25, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  17. TiredOftheBS

    NameSteve said: But I wonder why Obama sought to comment on this act of violence but remained silent while the drum major of Florida A&M was beaten to death by his own band mates.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    If you were paying any attention, he was ASKED about the Trayvon Martin incident, he didn't just bring it up on his own.

    _______

    toucheami said: What’s with President Obama? He should be showing leadership, not fanning the flames. He should be calling for calm, ask citizens to show restraint in judgment until all the facts are known

    ______________________________________

    It's quite obvious you didn't watch the ENTIRE press conference. Your stupidity is showing.

    March 25, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. janetlaw

    "Is the president suggesting if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it wouldn't look like him? That's just nonsense," No, Newt, that is not what the president is suggesting, and anyone with a drop of brain cells would understand that – just not you.

    March 25, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. Brad Baty

    "Reprehensible." "Irresponsible." "Hard to stomach." Yep, that sure describes O Bummer.

    March 25, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. Joseph

    Millions of Americans are out of work, thousands of veterans have been permanently injured in this Country's latest misadventures overseas, our Country is suffering from HUGE HUGE deficits, our elected "leaders" haven't passed a budget in three years, the price of gasoline, our Nation's lifeblood, is going up, up, up, and the president feels it necessary to enter himself into the middle of what is obviously a state matter? What is this man thinking? Unfortunately, to many citizens it appears that this president only is interested in local affairs if a black person is involved. Mr. President – you and Congress need to focus on our National problems and do so NOW.

    March 25, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. GEdwards

    Of course the comments are reprehensible - they refer to Pres Obama's reprehensible statement that both politicized and solidified race as the focal point of the killing.

    Pres Obama must be a slow learner after his "the police acted stupidly" statement a couple of years ago.

    March 25, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. GEdwards

    Of course the comments are reprehensible – they refer to Pres Obama's reprehensible statement that both politicized and solidified race as the focal point of the killing.

    Pres Obama must be a slow learner after his "the police acted stupidly" statement a couple of years ago.

    March 25, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. lib

    The only people pushing for a race war in this coutry has been the republicans. It ramped up more when Racist Palin joined the McCain circus and started with all the racist hate. It also started when Bubba went into the backwoods and brought all the hillbillys out for Hilary. Mr Obama was a community organizer and has a history of bringing people together. Funny how some whites try to turn racism around on Blacks. Blacks are not racist. We are mostly Reactionaries, We React to the racism against Blacks in this country. On a whole, I believe that most Americans hate raciism. It's only the ignorant who try to continue to use it like the white lady at the firing range with santorum.

    March 25, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. Debbie

    He said we should take this with seriousness and get to the bottom of it...did not hear him saying which side was right and which side was wrong. If it were my child, i would certainly want to know. No matter what you think of this situation, that kid has parents who love him and they deserve to know the truth. Quit twisting words.

    March 25, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  25. hippiekenny

    The only part I disagree with is " this Republican primary at some points has been more of a circus show and a clown show," . The WHOLE thing has been a clown and circus show !!!

    March 25, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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