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. G. Robinson


    OBAMA/BIDEN 08-12

    October 22, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  2. Global J

    Oh, duh! Sounds like he has been talking too much to McCain and Palin.
    It'll be interesting to see if he survives come this November.

    October 22, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  3. Beauregarde

    Liberals ARE the real Americans...

    October 22, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  4. Rebecca

    More conservative lies and division tactics... Yawn...

    October 22, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. Can't wait for the Republican's reactions on Nov 4th

    Republicans are the most ignorant Americans.

    October 22, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  6. Chris S.

    We cant people disagree and not hate each other. The republican party has become a complete joke. The religious hard right-wingers will doom this party for decades to come.

    October 22, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  7. mds

    these people are going down the wrong road! Why start calling people who do not think that same way as you do " non-american" ! So I do not think the same way, then I am not a good american! BAD,BAD,BAD!

    October 22, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  8. Mike

    Another idot opening his mouth-are the republicans so desperate that its come to this? How pathetic.

    October 22, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  9. Penelope

    If we can get pin-headed idiots like this out of congress, and out of the financial system, we might be able to see the American Dream once again!

    October 22, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  10. solo

    What a moron!!!. All these people should be removed from Congress inmediately!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  11. Debbie

    Actually it's the right way to express what you feel if you're an ignorant hatemonger which, clearly, Rep. Hayes is.

    October 22, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  12. Frank Lee

    Nice going, Robin. Liberals hate real idiots.

    Your retirement begins in two weeks.

    Enjoy your last days in office.

    October 22, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  13. Grace

    He has always been a liar–maybe he will actually lose this time. A really great guy is running against him.

    October 22, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  14. TC

    Another Republician idiot

    October 22, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  15. Will-South Dakota

    GOP seeds of hate and division.

    October 22, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. ronihans

    A fool at 40

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  17. Anna Erickson

    It does seem like liberals are much more hostile. I think that what leads to some of these comments.

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  18. Snarling Johnny

    Typical republican stupidity, nothing new here

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  19. Carson - Austin Texas

    Liberals are un-American because they are not bigots, racists and fear mongers?

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  20. alvy singer

    It's time to get rid of jerks like this!

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  21. K. Sundberg

    Will someone please tell me what the definition of a "real American" or "pro-American" is?

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  22. Pat's friend

    Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

    -Patrick Henry

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  23. carlo

    That shows you how out of touch the GOP is. Don't they know that EVERTHING they say is recorded somewhere?

    October 22, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  24. not a hater

    Look in the mirror! Who's doing the hating?

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  25. Robert in raleigh

    I hope the people on your side of the state vote you out , you've been in congress to long any way. What a dooff..

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
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