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. colony14 author, Mt Prospect, Illinois

    Yet another example of democrats and liberals believing they are superior to the "little people" in the United States and "know best." After they've made all of America smoke-free, nuclear-free, gun-protection-free, trans-fat-free, toilets-that-work-free, humor-free, and Ann-Coulter-free, they'll make it fast-car-free. Gee, I can't wait for the day when we'll all be driving electric cars that can't go more than 20 miles per hour and can't be recharged because Gore's environmentalists have outlawed powerplants.

    October 11, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  2. Bennett Feinberg, Folsom, CA

    This has nothing to do with slurs against NASCAR fans. These aides were going on a fact finding mission for health preparedness at large events. The event could have been a boy scout jubilee, or an anti-war demonstration. When large numbers of people are crowded together, disease transmission increases exponentially. As a physician, I would have added meningococcal vaccine to the list. And what is with the NRCC acting like NASCAR is a Republican event? And then worse, purposely misconstrueing vaccination recommendations in a pathetic attempt to gain some miniscule political advantage. The only offensive comments here were made by the NRCC.

    October 11, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  3. Paul, Phoenix, Arizona

    Holy Cow!! I shudder to think what I have to go through to attend a pro wrestling (or is that rasslin) match.

    October 11, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  4. Tom Dedham, Mass

    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.

    Posted By Rodney Dallas TX : October 11, 2007 5:57 pm

    I am embarrassed to even think you have the right to vote.

    Take a good guzzle of the Kool-aid "Rodney" and understand he meant it that the "hicks or rednecks" were dirty.

    I go to Louden NH all the time and I find his comments disgusting and indefensible.

    We vote, and we will vote in unison against bigoted Democratic views.

    October 11, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  5. Cris in Boulder Colorado

    Isn't it ironic that a sport loved by so many on the right is based on a driver's ability go to left,left,left,left, le... as fast as possible while sitting on their, excuse the pun, "ass".

    October 11, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. pam Eugene Or

    Rodney, He didn't ask them to wash their hands he asked them to take serious precautions to go to a sports event. Would they need to be inoculated to go to an NFL game? This guy is an idiot! There are heaps and gobs of voters at them there thangs!

    October 11, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    The real hazard of Nascar was the lead poisoning and still is the benzene exposure which is only made worse by fly overs of military aircraft. The notion of being immunized has more to do with the fact that so many people were not while their children were. It's the same for concerts and sporting events,not to mention the closed environments of air travel. Just common sense.

    October 11, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. Bryan , Cypress, CA

    Most reasonable people would not get caught dead at a NASCAR event anyways, so why is this a problem?

    October 11, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. Ghostwriter

    "While red-blooded, patriotic Americans were packing their coolers and gathering their families...."

    So the "American Way" is to haul your your kids and your beer to the race track? Apparently I don't qualify as a red-blood patriotic American either.

    Thompson's comments were germophobic. With comments like this one, he might be somewhat out of touch.

    But ye gods, please come up with a better criticism than "real Americans pack their coolers and don't worry about germs". I'm so tired of Republican arguments that offer no substance or intelligence, but instead simply try to appeal to the patriotism of the masses. Does Thompson do a bad job? That would be a substantial criticism. If more Republicans offered substance instead of style, maybe they wouldn't have lost the congress and probably the presidency.

    October 11, 2007 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  10. Pattie, Kannapolis, NC

    Dear Mr. Thompson:
    Not to worry about contacting any infectious diseases at a NASCAR race...
    there's enough alcohol there to kill ANY germs you may be worried about!
    Shame on you for your shallow, racist thinking!
    WHO ELECTED YOU ANYWAY????!!!!! (Probably some poor fools running fevers, I'll bet!)

    October 11, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |


    October 11, 2007 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  12. Jody, Washington, DC

    Obviously Republicans are desperate if this is all they have to talk about.

    October 11, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  13. Greg, Tunica, MS

    You all need to understand that the recommendation to get immunized was to protect congressional staff from more than encounters at NASCAR. If you would have watched Lou Dobbs tonight, you would have seen Hayes get totally embarrassed by Thompson. Thompson made it clear that his aides would also be visiting prisons and hospitals. As an fyi, even kids get immunized to go to classrooms with far less bodies in them than a NASCAR stand, MORONS!

    Mr. Hayes, we hope that you earn your little campaign contributions for doing public service announcements for NASCAR tonight. You look as dumb as your letter sounded.

    October 11, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  14. just joe

    Can you believe this crap?

    The joyboys have nothing to do other than whip around a track in a souped-up
    expensive piece of advertising media on wheels that most of us could care less about ...but we fear being called "unAmerican" because their fetish is bull.......making money for a lot of dudes, yes......but bull.

    October 11, 2007 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  15. James

    Oh GOD! How thin skinned are these GOP'ers????

    October 11, 2007 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  16. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Now this is another dumb conversation. It is like the Rush Limbaugh "phony soldier" comment. It will blow over in a day or two.

    No Democrat cares if a crowd of people want to pay to watch traffic. It keeps them out of pawn shops and cigarette stores.

    October 11, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |


    October 11, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  18. mfrede, Longmont,co

    Republicans will do anything to divert
    attention from the fact that these same NASCAR fans are getting shafted
    daily by the carpet baggers that are todays Republican Party. The middle-class blue coller americans that are the base of NASCAR are being lead down the path of distruction but can't see because of type of smoke being blown
    by out of touch, republican elite

    October 11, 2007 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  19. Wes, Indiana

    Certainly, all of our healthcare workers too have great prejudices against those who might be, but are without a doubt, infectious. Not only those dirty, terrible NASCAR fans but the entire population. There ought to be a law against that sort of thing, don't you think? I have to say that the republicans probably gained a whole lot of votes from our most intellectual portion of the country, those that couldn't possibly be identified as suckers to any form of negative propaganda. And another thing, what is so stock about these cars anyway?

    October 11, 2007 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  20. Matthew, Okemos, MI

    "Yeah – we're all hill-billy toofless rednecks??"

    Actually? Yeah.

    Even if it was taken out of context, I still find the idea of being immunized against NASCAR fans pretty funny.

    Why is it that Democrats always seem so elitist? It's because, deep down, underneath any of the "political correctness" we know we're right.

    If you are still following the GOP at this point in your life after everything they've done, I really fear for the future of your children.

    Wake up.

    October 11, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  21. Fredrick-Melbourne, FL

    More proof that the Liberals are totally out of touch outside of Washington, DC.

    October 11, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  22. Aaron, Cedar Rapids Iowa

    "Bigoted" and "racist" are not terms that apply toward rednecks. Last I heard, personality traits weren't a protected class. You people need to get a life. This story made me roll my eyes the instant I read it.

    October 11, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  23. Kate, NY, NY

    I would also bet that the Republicans having this little tiff have never been to a NASCAR race either. And, if they do go, they probably wear their golf shirts buttoned to the top.

    Let's be honest, the races attract all kinds of people. Some are very interesting, let's say.

    (I grew up down South and my husband is an Ivy-educated PhD who loves and attends NASCAR races).

    October 12, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  24. SLM, Dallas, TX

    The grocery stores even have disinfectant wipes for their shopping carts...You don't know where other people have been. Why does it hurt to take precautions to protect yourself. I don't care for NASCAR, but that doesn't mean I'm not an American. The Republicans need to address some real issues, instead of grasping for straws.

    October 12, 2007 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  25. Texrat, Fort Worth, TX

    Much ado by the NRCC about nothing.

    Are they THAT bored?

    October 12, 2007 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
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