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. vic

    In a real crisis our country will be better with Senator Obama. He will lead us through any crisis.
    McCain and Palin will blow up the world!!!
    Vote smart – after the election it's too late.

    October 22, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. Karen Freeman

    Unbelievable! So 'liberal' = anti-American and 'conservative' = pro-American? And what about those of us who are liberal in some respects and conservative in others? Unbelievable. And stomach-turning.

    October 22, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  3. Indiana Vol

    "Liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God."

    This is a true and accurate statement about liberals!



    October 22, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  4. Ed

    How very typical. Goes to show you how hateful and out of touch Republicans are with the people when they claim that the majority are not real Americans. PLEASE THROW THESE BUMS OUT!

    October 22, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  5. Bridget

    Oh, that's nice Mr. Representative. I live in North Carolina and am ashamed that a politician from this state would say such things. They are supposed to be above the fray. I guess that's too much to ask of this man.

    October 22, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  6. Tony

    Lets see if his explanation is accpeted as easily by the left as Murtha's was.........

    October 22, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  7. gbrown2


    October 22, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  8. j williamson

    Can you say DESPERATE????

    October 22, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  9. jmc

    hopefully that comment will cost him and the other clown from Min. their seats in the house. You two reminds me of a pig with lipstick.

    October 22, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  10. Kiz

    I may be a liberal, but I decided a long time ago I'd never be rich enough or greedy enough to be a Republican. Frankly, my morals are way too strong to ever resort to their type of greed and selfishness.

    October 22, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  11. Noah

    Man just dig that hole deeper GOP!!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  12. wes

    If you don't believe in GOD, you are not american? This country is a joke.

    October 22, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  13. Miskeen

    I am not commenting on this story. I just wanted to ask McCain if he concceds that the former republican administration has LIED to the whole world about Iraq's Neuclear weapons.

    October 22, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  14. Jpck20

    Of course Liberals hate America. This isn't any secret, I don't know why he is trying to deny he said it.

    October 22, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. Aaron

    I am pretty sure the only haters I have seen lately are Republicans who seem very angry that their candidate has let them down and are doing everything in their power to distract attention from the fact that Obama is a better candidate.

    Stop the hate, lets have some peace Republicans!

    October 22, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  16. JOHN

    I think it is the republicans that are unpatriotic. America is built on the premise that all men are created equal. If you want a totalitarian government America is not it. The republicans want control, not a democratic society. Sad.

    October 22, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  17. Ray

    Typical Conservative rhetoric... just a bunch of divisive, if-you-ain't-with-us-yer-not-a-REAL-'MERICAN drivel.

    October 22, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  18. Donkey Party

    As a NC Democrat, the only people I hate are Republican politicians.

    October 22, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  19. RW


    October 22, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  20. patriot

    I hope the voters run these divisive, anti-democracy demagogues out of town on a rail.

    October 22, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  21. shannon

    wow, can't believe people would vote for these folks. there is no need for people with this kind of rhetoric to be a part of our government.

    October 22, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  22. Ann, MI

    This makes me sick. I am an American citizen and I have the same First Amendment right to speak up as this congressman does. Well here you go sir. Conservatives are full of hatred and bile. They should work out your issues in therapy and leave governing the country to people who are willing to work with everyone.

    October 22, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  23. Rich-NJ

    Typical narrow-minded Republican/Conservative statements.

    October 22, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  24. Common

    Great, another republican dividing America...

    October 22, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  25. Obama or Bust

    So, Hayes, what's a "real American?" Is it someone that makes small minded remarks that are intended to divide America? If so, then, I'm a full-blooded Democrat!

    October 22, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
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