October 22nd, 2008
05:25 AM ET
14 years ago

Congressman admits saying, 'Liberals hate real Americans'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/21/art.hayes.ap.jpg caption="Hayes is facing a tough reelection race."](CNN) - A North Carolina congressman locked in a tight re-election race admitted Tuesday to recently telling a crowd of John McCain supporters that "liberals hate real Americans," the latest in a string of comments from Republicans that appear to question Democrats' patriotism.

Rep. Robin Hayes, a five-term Republican who has been heavily targeted by Democrats this election cycle, first denied making the remarks, but conceded Monday afternoon that he was accurately quoted.

"After reading it, there is no doubt that it came out completely the wrong way," Hayes said. “I actually was trying to work to keep the crowd as respectful as possible, so this is definitely not what I intended."

The comments came at a McCain rally in Concord, North Carolina Saturday before the Arizona senator or members of his staff had arrived at the event. As first reported by the New York Observer, Hayes said, "Liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."

Hayes also told the raucous crowd to make sure "we don't say something stupid, make sure we don't say something we don't mean," warning the news media would likely distort such remarks.

In his statement Tuesday, Hayes suggested he meant to differentiate between the liberal and conservative philosophies rather than directly impugn the patriotism of his opponents.

"Liberals are advocating higher taxes, which I believe punish success - and they are advocating policies like gay marriage that I feel undermine strong families," he said. "We have a strong difference of opinion about the future of our nation, but obviously this was the wrong way to get that difference of opinion across."

Hayes is top target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and his prospects of re-election appear to be endangered by Obama's stronger than expected support in North Carolina. According to Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report, Obama is out-polling McCain by 9 points in Hayes' 8th district, a dynamic that could spell trouble for Hayes come Election Day. In 2004, President Bush defeated John Kerry by 9 points in Hayes' district and the GOP congressman narrowly won in 2006.

Hayes' comments echo those of other Republicans in recent days that have drawn fire from Democratic circles. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said late last week she's concerned Barack Obama “may have anti-American views,” and suggested other liberal members of Congress also may be anti-American.

"The news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look," she said. "I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"

Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin also drew fire from Democrats earlier this week when she suggested at a recent GOP fundraiser that she only likes to travel to "Pro-America parts of this great nation."

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation," she said.

In an interview with CNN Thursday, Palin apologized if her comments were interpreted to mean some areas of the country are more patriotic than others.

"I don't want that misunderstood," Palin said. "If that's the way it came across, I apologize."

McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer also turned heads when she said over the weekend that Northern Virginia, did not represent 'real Virginia' because of the influx of Democrats to the region in recent years.
“I certainly agree that northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. And as a proud resident of Oakton, Virginia I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia. And that’s really what you see there. But the rest of the state, ‘real’ Virginia if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message," she said.

Filed under: DCCC • Sarah Palin
soundoff (594 Responses)
  1. My Friends, let me tell you,

    Robin Hayes and I are on the same page,we agree that greed is good for all Americans.

    October 22, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  2. AmandaB

    I am very troubled by this string of hateful, divisive comments coming from the Republican side, and at this point am doubly glad that I switched parties away from them! These comments, while often subtle, amount to little more than hate-mongering, and they have great potential to engender violence. The Republicans who speak such words want people to have strong, negative feelings against their opposition. Is this American? Is this patriotism? At a time when we are all so desperately wanting to unite, it makes my heart ache to hear such rhetoric, when, what each and every one of us wants and needs are answers to our personal economic pain and how our country can once again become the great, respected power that it has in the past.

    October 22, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  3. Carol

    Do I still live in the United States of America?! Since when is a different point of view anti American? This is just an extension of Bush's anti patriotic theme directed at anyone who disagreed with the Iraq War, and we see where that ended up. We are a diverse country and that is what makes us great. This divisiveness will be the beginning of the end. Vote Obama for Change and OUR FUTURE.

    October 22, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  4. Tony

    Throw the Republicans OUT!

    October 22, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  5. wesley

    All the Republican's have left: "Liberals hate white people... opps... didn't mean to say that." Let's finish off this party once and for all, and let it split, so that America can move into the 21st century.

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  6. South Florida

    he is such an idiot

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  7. the commuter

    Liberals don't hate "real" Americans. We look at them more with pity than anything else. The conservatives out of touch with the REAL America that all they have in their arsenal is "drive a wedge" and play on fears

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  8. Mccain is a liar

    Mccain and his supporters are liar that is the exact reason us un american people will vote for Obama and the Democrats good luck keeping your seat sir!

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  9. Samantha

    I'm a liberal. I go to college for a portion of the year, and hold down two jobs for the other portion. I work just as hard for my money and my success and want my country to prosper just as much as a conservative. And this is exactly why I will not vote for a McCain/Palin ticket.

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  10. Snow Mobile Ken

    Bye bye congressman....Pathetic yet sad. He probably doesn't even know that he's even being offensive. It's just the way his daddy brought him up.

    Eh, who am I kidding... This guy is a scumbag.

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  11. mrwolf

    Just a sampling of the GOP's divisive views. You're either to the right side of the aisle or you're un-patriotic and un-american. This is why their party is dying. (is this going to be posted or held pending perpetually?)

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  12. rosy obama mama

    you are admiting it because the video came out.....so congressman you had no choice...

    October 22, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  13. Carolina Tarheel

    One more thing....This Concord rally was held in The Cabarrus Arena & Events Center which holds approximately 7,000 people. The security and event center staff extimated the crowd to be about 2,000-2,500 because the center was "about half full." So much for Rep. Hayes' "hometown" support! BTW: I am not a Democrat but I have already participated in early voting and it was to cast mine for Senator Obama for President and Larry Kissell to replace Rep. Hayes.

    October 22, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  14. Chuck

    I'm sick of this crap. The Republican party is now the party of hatred to the extreme. Between Palin, and the many republican nutjobs questioning patriotism need to look at their own. To state these quotes shows a true lack of patriotism. It's time to send all Republicans on their way home. VOTE DEMOCRAT, EVEN IF YOU ARE A REPUBLICAN, VOTE FOR THE GOOD OF THIS NATION. VOTE DEMOCRAT. IF YOU AGREE WITH THESE LOONIES THEN VOTE FOR THEM. YOU WILL REGRET IT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. .

    October 22, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  15. foul play

    it's a wrap for real

    October 22, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  16. Stevo

    What exactly is a real American? Does he think that people who only look and act like him are real Americans? I severed this country proudly and was honorably discharged from the Armed forces does that make me a REAL AMERICAN? In my Opinion, Native Americans are the only true real Americans, this is the kind of GARBAGE that stirs up hate in people especially those who think it is their God given right to own this country and any other county for that matter!!! You know the ones, with a bible in one hand, and a gun and sheet in the other!!!!!! Give me a break and you wonder why other countries want to Destroy us!!!! I say good, so we can have a do over all across the board!!!!!!!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  17. Sue in MI

    Whatever you call the current policies of this country, they are obviously not working for most of us! Call me a liberal, but I believe that the cost of a civilized society is taxes-the government is better able to do some things than a town or a state can. Gay marriage? Who exactly does that hurt? Most gay couples I know have a stronger bond than some married couples.

    If the so-called Christian right would actually read and comprehend the New Testament, there might not be "conservatives" out there calling people names. That kind of behavior is not sanctioned by my God.

    The real issue here is that Republicans are behind, not only in the Presidential race, but in many of the state races, and they are terrified of giving up their power from the past 8 troubled years. They can't think of any positive ideas to change things, so they took Rove's playbook and started attacking. Golly, how's that workin' for ya? You bethcha.

    October 22, 2008 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  18. Desdemona

    How dare they! Shame on them for their divisive, fear-mongering, hate-mongering rhetoric. How dare they suggest that only certain areas or certain inhabitants of this nation are real, or patriotic. You know what I hate, Mr Hayes? I hate ignorance.

    October 22, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. Todd Johnson

    I can't believe these tactics are going on. What a disappointment to see the continued polarization of the parties. How dare any congressman make claims that simply because citizens don't agree with their political leanings, that we are anti-american or not patriotic. This is an absolute outrage.

    October 22, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  20. Jason

    This man is insane and I hope he losses!

    October 22, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  21. Lois

    Attention GOP, this sort of divisive nonsense is the reason you are losing.

    October 22, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  22. Steve, New York, New York

    Wow – he sounds like Palin. Does he also believe that the earth is only 10,000 years old?

    October 22, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  23. Carl from MI

    Liberals as well as the rest of America HATE Republicans that spew hate...


    October 22, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  24. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    No, Congressman, you've got it all wrong. "Real" Americans don't "hate" other Americans, but we DO dislike intolerant and narrow-minded people like you, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann very much!!

    October 22, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  25. Walt

    I am no longer surprised at what comes out of a republican's mouth. I genuinely wish I could be surprised. I am neither a liberal or a conservative. So, I am confused do I love or hate America?

    Obama08 and the rest of the Dems too!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
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