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. (Former) Lifelong Republican supporting Obama, Columbia, TN

    I cannot believe what the Republican Party has devolved into. I am ashamed to be Republican because this is not the party that I once respected. Extremist right-wing conservatives have taken over the party and now it is a hyper-religious, fundamentalist, extremist party that advocates hate, anger, bitterness, and division, pitting Americans against Americans!

    VOTE OBAMA-BIDEN in 2008!

    October 22, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. Mikey from San Antonio

    The United States of America was founded by a group of people who were considered "liberals" by King George and the British people. They were the nation's first patriots. They loved their land so much they wanted to protect it from the British Crown's attempt to squash individual liberties.

    Just because one advocates change, does not mean they love their country any less. I find it ridiculous that we send our troops to go fight a war to "protect America and her liberty" when we have incompetent and self-righteous individuals making comments such as these.

    October 22, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. Ashlee Dalton, GA

    How is it that the Republicans always try to paint liberals as un-American? Could it be that we are intellectual progressives who refuse to see American as that shining city on a hill? The truth of the matter is that we refuse to go along with the flawed thought pattern that America is somehow saintly and that anyone who speaks the truths about some of the dirty deed America is responsible for disqualifies us from sainthood. (like sponsoring clandestine operations to overthrow governments, attempting to usurp the power of many nations, etc.) The Republicans need to give it up and re-evaluate their platform... it is not patriotic to whine for less government when it comes to taxes yet want to impose their religious beliefs on a religious heterogenous America. They want a theocracy...a religion controled government and anyone who protests they want to slander them....I believe that the Republicans who want to wage a war on terrorism against Islam should beging with their radical fellow Republicans, like the fearmongering Sarah Palin and Pat Buchanan.

    October 22, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  4. Michelle, Kansas City

    I thought liberals and progressives WERE real Americans.

    So, what's a real American? Am I?

    I served in the Army from 2000 to 2007. I came from a lower-middle income family. My mother was a teacher and my father had his own small business. I put myself through school with a combination of academic scholarships and the G.I. Bill. I grew up in a small town, learning to chop wood by the age of 8 to keep the house warm. I went to church every week growing up. Now, as a civilian, I work for a state research university.

    Oh, wait... I'm a gay Pagan. Never mind, I must be the most evil anti-American EVER. The Obama/Biden sign in my front yard cements that.

    October 22, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  5. Mike M, Indiana

    Representative Hayes is an unrepentant oathbreaker.
    When he pledges allegiance to the flag he states "one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
    In trying to split "liberals" and "real Americans" he has broken his oath.

    October 22, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  6. James T.

    Because I disagree with you, I am not a real American, and I hate you? This is the legacy that 'W' will leave behind. An extreme intolerance for anyone who may have a differing view. The founding fathers, and the likes of Lincoln and Reagan, would be ASHAMED of what the republican party has become. NOT one of these hate filled, fear mongering individuals is fit to call themselves a member of Reagan's party.

    I have been a republican for as long as I have been able to vote, this election, will end a 20year voting record, that, until 'W' I was quite proud of.

    October 22, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Well that about sums it up! "f you don't think like me, you're anti-American or not part of the real America." This looks like the next civil war brewing: Repug-licans, get ready for "real America" to show you what America is about.

    October 22, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. Mary

    Who is to say that I am unAmerican because I do not agree with you? Who is to say that must not be Christian because I DO NOT want John McCain in the White House? Just because I do not agree with the conservative right does not mean that I am unamerican and unchristian - Righteous Right, PLEASE, PLEASE quit telling me I have to believe what you do in order to be a good Christian and American. Jesus would not approve of your judgement and anger and intolerance to others views and beliefs – that simple goes against everything He taught....

    October 22, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  9. John, Ruston, LA

    Of course, liberals couldn't BE "real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God," now could they? Not according to the reactionary conservative philosophy whereby they, and only they, count as "real" or "American." We've heard this hate-speech before–from white supremacists, fundamentalist fanatics, and oh yeah, Sarah Palin. The neo-cons always show their stripes when cornered, so this shouldn't surprise anyone who's listening.

    October 22, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  10. vic

    First we have Palin and McCain alluding that senator Obama is a terrorist, a traitor, a socialist, and now anti-american.
    Their hate mongering has already gotten a baby bear killed in North Carolina, and I wonder how long it will take for their race-baiting, hate mongering, and fear mongering lies to get a person killed.
    Hang your heads in shame, McCain and Palin.
    And as for everyone else, do not cast your votes for these people that are deeply dividing our country with their anti-american hate rhethoric.
    Vote AGAINST McCain and Palin.

    October 22, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  11. Bulldog

    He should not be allowed to be a Congressman with talk like that. That is what drives hate which only leads to bad things and for congressmen to be instigating this type of behavior is downright horrible.

    October 22, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  12. Michelle

    Liberals do hate hard working people who believe in God, I don't need any single Democrat to prove it, or any Republican to say it... any trip through the internet (or just the comments here on CNN) can tell you that.

    October 22, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  13. will

    I live in New York, let's stop with the media being politically correct on this one. The liberals I know really do look down upon middle America. I constantly hear derogatory references to middle America, Sarah Palin, etc around here. Clearly this is true of the media and entertainment industry too.

    October 22, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  14. A concerned American

    It is becoming the norm for the right wing to question the patriotism of the rest of the good citizens of this great country who does not share their views on issues. I believe our founding fathers will be turning in their graves because of what has become the story of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I do not believe the Rebublicans love this country more than any other law abiding Democrats or Independents of our country. It is time we put an end to the politics of divisiveness in this country. GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  15. Republican for Obama

    Palin is a disgrace.

    $150,000 Clothing Allowance
    Took family on trips and charged the taxpayers over $21,000
    Charged the taxpayers for meals while staying in her own home

    You betcha!!! Now that executive experience alright. Kinda like the ENRON executive school of experience!!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  16. eli

    Sir, I am a liberal who works hard to achieve and I love Americans and America. And, despite your narrow view of me, I also have a great love for God. Perhaps you should search your OWN heart before you judge me. Ellen–Anderson, IN

    October 22, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. Liberal

    Just another fascist right-wing wacko...

    October 22, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  18. New Yorker

    Well, if one looks at the agenda of the liberals it appears they do hate real Americans. "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. Those are just two examples but there are many more. BTW an unborn baby is a real American, also, and we know the liberal view on them. But I just touched a nerve with the liberals so I doubt CNN will let this get past moderation.

    October 22, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  19. Ryan

    Im a liberal, and I hate people like this guy, who think he's more american than the rest of us.. what a crock, who's his opponent so I can donate to them?

    October 22, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  20. redleg

    Perhpas he can post his DD-214 to show that he defended the US rather than hiding in college.

    October 22, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  21. Brian from KY

    "liberals hate real Americans" Wait... Strike that... Reverse it..... or replace it with what is really being said.... "stupid republicans hate smart Americans"

    October 22, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  22. Beth from Virginia

    This man sounds like a loose cannon to me! He's scary!!

    October 22, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  23. The El Paso Desperado

    I am sure that this lackwit hayseed could not define Liberalism, socialism, communism, or Conservatism. I hope the good people of North Carolina send him into retirement. It would be a nice irony if, somehow, we could cancel his rights to such anti-American programs as Social Security and Medicare. Likewise, I'd like to see his generous federal pension and health benefits (much better than anything he would want the average American to have). Also, the laws prohibiting discrimination against the elderly should be cancelled in his case. And, if in his old age he finds himself in a wheel chair, I think he should be prohibited from using wheelchair ramps and public transportation for the handicapped.

    October 22, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  24. Anton

    Typical conservative rhetoric.When will these guys learn that tuff talk doesn't make you more of an American.

    October 22, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  25. Chut Pata

    Polls show NC has a high probability of being "Un-Real America". National Poll shows the majority of USA is going to be "Un-Real America".

    Republicans have screwed everyone including those living in "Real America" i.e. where blacks are lynched, kids dont go to college, inbreeding is a core family value, WWE and NASCAR are considered unscripted, earth is seen as flat and created 6,000 years ago, global warming is a liberal stunt etc etc.

    October 22, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
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