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. Pam Anderson

    I'm so tired of all the hate that is spread by these people! We've had too many years of this and its got to stop! Barack Obama can help bring this country back to what it used to be where there was respect for others. McCain and his Republican cronies have spun out of control! This is NOT the America I want to raise my daugter in!!

    October 22, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  2. Corwin7

    After all, they can't be real americans when espousing such "anti-american" ideals as giving medical care to elderly people and feeding hungry children now can they?

    October 22, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  3. Frank H

    The Pope is Catholic and liberals hate America, nothing new here. Either McCain gets elected or this country is in trouble. The liberal crowd already got us in the mortgage mess (though won't admit it).

    October 22, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  4. liberal mary

    Cannot wait until this "REAL American" is voted out of office. These people are the reason this country is in need of CHANGE. Let these Bible Thumping Bigots leave their anti-American rhetoric where it belongs- in the gutter that they came out of

    October 22, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  5. Tyler

    Can't wait for November 4th! Hopefully then we can kick these witch hunters out of the political process.

    This kind of rhetoric is disrespectful and divisive.

    October 22, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  6. Maddie, Hartford, Ct.

    Simple minds say simple things.

    October 22, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  7. Joe Average

    He is correct in every way. The libs care nothing for this country they only are looking for a handout!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  8. Steve

    He said it.

    Then he denied saying it.

    Then, when caught dead to rights, he says "I didn't mean to say it."


    October 22, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  9. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    More slime form the dirty campaign, instead of talking issues important to everyone.

    October 22, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  10. Kansas For Obama

    I guess everyone who isn't a Republican are America hating, godless gnomes who should bow down & worship them.

    This is by far one of the most disgusting, biggoted comments yet....surprising it didn't come from Sarah Palin.

    October 22, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  11. annonomous

    So what makes you pro-American? Only Believing in Jesus, Hating everyone of any other race, religion and sexual orientation , and i guess you have to live in a small town. Thats the problem with republicans, so close minded

    October 22, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  12. Darn Liberals...

    Those dang Liberals fighting in Iraq for this country.

    Robin Hayes is a disgrace to ALL Americans!

    Navy Virginia Veteran for Obama!

    October 22, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  13. DN

    Those types of remarks are really unfortunate as they are destructive. Just who do such comments help? What I hear when they say such things is compromise is unacceptable. It's their way or no way. The question is do they really believe that?

    October 22, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  14. KofTX

    Why are all of these bigots being elected to public office?!?

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  15. Now for Obama

    This is truly a race for our future.......the world is looking at us..OBAMA/BIDEN 2008.

    October 22, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  16. Oski

    Republicans hate the people trying hardest to get America back on the right track. Republicans hate America.

    October 22, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  17. Eric

    If this is what being a Republican is, I am not interested. The GOP is doing a fine job of alienating potential members with such rhetoric. Not to mention independents and swing voters. Enough of the bile. Get to the issues.

    October 22, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  18. ST

    This is the reason Republicans are having such a hard time this year. They think they are the only ones who love this country. They really need to get over themselves.

    October 22, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  19. Nicole In NE

    All I can say is wow. Divisive

    It's time to move on and forward – REAL America is a melting pot of religions and nationalities.

    It's sad that someone in 2008 doesn't understand by now that's what makes America great. Our freedoms.

    October 22, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  20. Nina Deponca

    Is this the same Republican that LIED when 1st confronted with his statements on this topic ... or was it some other LYING GOP'er?

    October 22, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  21. R U Serious

    That sure sounds like hate speach to me, arn't liberals americans too? So what does that make you... a moron

    October 22, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  22. mitch

    i am so sick of republicans questioning my patriotism. well,voting started early,here in arkansas, and this hillbilly voted for barack and biden. any o' you repubs dont like it ,can kiss my white rear!

    October 22, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  23. Ray

    Maybe I should change my political affiliation. I had no idea that I wasn't a real American. Obviously my 20 years in the service and now working for Homeland Security does not qualify.

    I repect the Congressman's opinion I just disagree!

    October 22, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  24. Doug R.

    More shallow, short sighted comments and falsehoods barfed up by Republicans. I'm more patriotic than someone like you Mr. Hayes.
    You do have to question John McCain's judgement for selecting someone like Sarah Palin to be his VP nominee.

    October 22, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  25. Scott L

    At least he isn't calling a candidates supporters racist!

    Let's see now, that would be Lewis and Murtha so far. Who is next on the Obama campaign?

    October 22, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
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