October 12th, 2007
07:30 AM ET
14 years ago

Dem takes heat over NASCAR immunization

Fans watch race action during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressional Republicans Thursday seized on a Democrat's recent suggestion that his aides get immunized before attending NASCAR events, claiming such a recommendation shows a "disconnect" with America.

Asking in a press release whether Democrats are "allergic to NASCAR nation," the National Republican Congressional Committee wrote, "While red-blooded, patriotic Americans were packing their coolers and gathering their families in preparation of attending last week’s race at Talladega, a leading Democrat was advising staff to get immunized."

The NRCC is referencing Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, who advised aides to get immunized against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, and influenza before heading to the NASCAR event. The aides were on a fact finding mission on health preparedness at large events.

"Maybe the House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson was afraid his fellow Democrats might come down with a case of Red State Republicanism after coming in contact with hundreds of thousands of regular Americans attending the event," the NRCC said in its release. "No matter what his reasoning, Thompson’s ignorant behavior is inexcusable and clearly exposes the fundamental disconnect between the Democrat-led Congress and the rest of America."

The NRCC's statement follows a strongly-worded letter to Thompson Friday from Rep. Robin Hayes, R-North Carolina, which said, "I have been to numerous NASCAR races, and the folks who attend these events certainly don't pose any health hazard to congressional staffers or anyone else."

Responding in a letter Wednesday, Thompson wrote, "Since committee staff members are visiting hospital and other health-care facilities available at or near these venues, including areas where groups of people are detained before being transferred to other off-site facilities, I believe that the recommendation (not requirement) that our congressional staff receive these same immunizations was sound."

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Deirdre Walsh

Filed under: Political
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Daniel, NY

    In more interesting House news, Democrats made two big recruitment coups today, in AK-AL and FL-24, putting those two races seriously in the map!

    October 11, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Henry Tucker, Ga

    Bennie Thompson advised "advised aides to get immunized against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, and influenza before heading to NASCAR event."

    He didn't say "before going to the hospital" or "health care facility"... he said NASCAR event.

    This will go over REAL well with average Americans, Mr Thompson! Glad to know prejudice still exists against racing fans. Yeah – we're all hill-billy toofless rednecks??

    Oh by the way... us rednecks VOTE.

    October 11, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  3. josh

    NASCAR is the fasted growing spectator sport in the USA and the Democratic Donkeys are so arrogant and ignorant they insult the very people who can put them into office. Yet again showing that they are totally out of touch with reality. They only cater to their leftwing kook base. I'm not a fan of NASCAR either but please! NASCAR may be for red-necks, but DEMOCRATES ARE FOR DONKEYS!

    October 11, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. Brighton, Michigan

    This was an improper statement, I am a Democrat and a avid NASCAR race follower and will continue to be, the race fans didn't leave the Democratic party the Party left them.

    October 11, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. Rodney Dallas TX

    So what.....I disinfect my hands if I'm using the company fax machine. Lots of people could mean the flu. This is sad that republicans would say democrats are getting "immunized from NASCAR fans". I'm embarrassed to even be reading about it.

    October 11, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Ryan, New York, NY

    My parents are NASCAR fans and I've always posed the question to them "how is this considered a sport." I'm still waiting for a good answer. I move around playing video games more than these drivers do during a race. More power to anyone who wants to spend their time watching cars go in circles, but why call it a sport?


    As for the comment, it was dumb and I'd like to see a quote to see if there was context, but the Republicans really seem to be grasping on this one by making it such a big deal.

    October 11, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  7. Joe, St. Louis , MO

    It only makes sense that if conressional staffers are going to be doing field studies on health preparedness at large events that they be immunized just like any other health care professional would be. To turn what is simply a medical precaution into a political argument is why two party politics sucks. Props to Rodney from Dallas for coming to the same rational conclusion. I also think it is funny that the NRCC things that NASCAR fans are represetative of the "rest of America". Lots of people, Republican and Democrat, are not NASCAR fans but still part of the "rest of America".

    October 11, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  8. Billy Hill, Longview, Wa

    Are there going to be any warnings about precautions one should take before attending a San Fransisco street parade? I would suspect an air tight sanitary rubber suit and a clorox filled super soaker would be a good investment....but thats just me.

    October 11, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. laurinda,ny

    Democrats may be for donkeys (they are pretty clever animals, you know), but, Republicans are for FOOLS!!

    October 11, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    If the staff members were advised to get immunization shots because they were going to be visiting health facilities, then why the non-story being created by "red-blooded Americans"?
    I think the characters in the movie Talledega Nights are not too far off from representing MOST (not all) folks at these events. "Red-blooded American"....what the heck does that even mean? Ignorant and dumb? People who think 9-11 was related to Iraq? People who are against science and think we were created out of sand? People who get their "news" from Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter?
    What a disgrace to the experiment in democracy this country set out to achieve.

    October 11, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. Oren Hernandez, New Port Richey FL

    One democrat in congress says something negative and all democrats in congress are condemned for it. That's really mature. I don't remember hearing any democrats condemning all republicans because a republican senator supposedly solicited gay sex in a bathroom.

    October 11, 2007 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    Obviously it was a joke, and would have laughed like hell. I know I wash my hands after going to the zoo. And what about all these red-blooded uhmurikuns that would not be caught dead anywhere near something like a museum, or a classical concert, or any kind of cultural festival that did not deal with whites? Get over yourselves.

    And no, I do not watch NASCAR or attend such events. I have a brain.

    October 11, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    What hysterical Republican spin!

    Bennie Thompson doesn't speak for the Democratic party anymore than Ron Paul speaks for the Republic party, but I guess when you are a desperate minority party you will look to demagogue any issue you can.



    Bring on the Rovian attack machine

    October 11, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  14. Dan, San Pedro, CA

    Wow, it seems like the Republicans are really reaching for something to latch onto. This story REALLY made the political ticker?

    October 11, 2007 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  15. Alyson Cleveland, Ohio

    Please read everything in context "The aides were on a fact finding mission on health preparedness at large events." Large groups of people spread viruses....I love my child, but his daycare is like a virus factory. Does not mean that I am against daycares, it is just groups of people spread germs and NASCAR attracts large groups of people. If you believe that he was saying NASCAR fans are germ spreaders you are right, so am I, so is my son, etc. Please go hate on something more important like Ann Coultier the anti-semite.

    October 11, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  16. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Predominantly redneck NASCAR fans don't need immunizations, they need lobotomies.

    October 11, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  17. Rex, Toledo, Ohio

    fact: I love NASCAR
    fact: I'm not a republican
    fact: comment taken out of context.

    October 11, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  18. my911call, Wilmington, NC

    This was one staff member talking to his employees during the course of a business day. I fail to see how this represents the entire Democratic party.
    Any logical thinker would clearly understand this. Narrow thinking only serves to reflect your own consitution.

    October 11, 2007 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  19. Tom Soppe, Portland, OR

    Boy the Reupblicans are sure desperate to use all they have left- "cultural" wedge issues that separate "real" Americans who like NASCAR and other red-state-associated stuff and us "fake" people who don't.

    And if you act arrogant (like Republicans usually do) about supposedly liking such stuff, I suppose you're not pretentious or arrogant because you are part of the "right" part of the culture. But if you buy organic or don't go to church or drink lattes, you are automatically bad and elitist and pretentious because your part of the "wrong" part of the culture. Right, pundit believing conservatives?

    And to think some of the commenters here are falling for this divisive non-issue. And how CNN spun it as "divide" issue where Dems supposedly don't "respect" the "real" people, when its really a case of a concern Congressman wanting to protect the health of people who attend big events with lots of people.

    October 11, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. Connie, Tn.

    Taking care of your health is a good idea. The Republicans like to act like they are "just one of the guys" but everyone knows they just want your vote and then they forget about you.

    October 11, 2007 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  21. Christian, Tampa FL

    I can certainly understand how a lot of people would find this offensive. For his sake, I hope Mr. Thompson was genuinely thinking of healthcare facilities and hospitals when he made the remarks.

    October 11, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  22. Eric, New City, NY

    Hey Henry Tucker, I find it interesting that you put quotes around *advised aides to get immunized against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, and influenza before heading to NASCAR event* when the CNN article did not. It never says what his exact words were, merely paraphrases them. You imply those were his exact words and then condemn them.

    Let's see how easy it is...

    Henry Tucker, you called NASCAR fans "hill-billy toofless rednecks". As a NASCAR fan I find it insulting that you call me a hill-billy. It'd be nice to see you go to a NASCAR event and say that...how long before you get beat up? Go get back in your limo and prance back to your ivory tower where you can look down on the rest of us real Americans!

    Hey you wrote those words, not me. I'm not the one who looks down on my fellow NASCAR fans as hill-billies & toothless. Why don't you actually go to some NASCAR events and meet some real Americans for a change?

    October 11, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  23. Tom Soppe, Portland, OR

    The message is clear:

    a) If a Democrat is concerned with the health of people at a big event where communicable diseases can be spread in a big crowd, he's the bad guy if the example he uses is NASCAR and the rich elitist pseudo-populist Republicans can pretensiously use it as a cultural divide issue. And what are the Republicans doing about disease? Nothing of course.

    b) If a Dem goes to NASCAR it's his one chance to be around "real" Americans, since non-NASCAR people and Democrats aren't real or worthy or American.

    Who is being elitist and divisive and pretentious and mean again?

    October 11, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. Fred, San Diego, CA

    Another right wing distortion of the facts. Everyone should be immunized especially if travelin and meeting people in new areas. Rep Thompson gave good advice whether they were going to NASCAR or to a New York Yankees game.

    October 11, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. Justin, Mesa AZ

    I think we should be immunized from democrats making dumb remarks. This is the kind of garbage that gives liberalism a bad name and loses elections for us. I am a democrat and I have no interest in watching "cars drive" but could care less that others do. Democrats should watch very closely what they say for the next year or so; otherwise it gets reported on here.

    October 11, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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