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. Liz

    I am a liberal and a christian that very much beleives in GOD thank you very much!

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. Brian NYC

    This country is slowly but surely separating. Its sad. I guess the American Indians are laughing at us now. "hey look at them arguing over land that wasn't even theirs in the first place"

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  3. Joe

    What a desperate old fool. He can't really think this... can he??!! If this is some reelection stunt I predict he'll lose because that comment is nothing more than a LAME attempt to get people's attention. How weak this man is....

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  4. Tom

    The reality: conservatives hate liberals and consider them "un-american". How much more divisive can they get? We'll see over the next 2 weeks...

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  5. Phil in KC

    I am a liberal Democrat. I'm also a VietNam Era veteran. While in the military, I held a top secret SI clearance. I've been a Boy Scout leader for over 20 years. And Rep. Hayes can kiss my rosey red cheeks.

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  6. jim of tampa bay

    Once again a republican does what they do best.... Open mouth... Insert foot.

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  7. Joe

    The Repugs are running scared and will say anything but in the end the truth will come out. Americans are not buying their "crap" just look at the polls. America is for all people to live in peace and harmony. Not just for the one select group of Repugs.

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. DC Resident

    This guy is definitely an idiot. He's feeding folks hate and adding fuel to a fire. It's scary to say but it's going to get even uglier as long as people like this speak out.

    October 22, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. Samantha

    The Republicans say things like this and it's the Democrats who hate Americans... sure. And people will still vote Republican... blows my mind how people can support a party who allows this hateful behavior to go on.

    October 22, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. Eric

    "No no no, it's Obama who is running a divisive and hateful campaign. "

    Cindy McCain

    October 22, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  11. Juan H

    Wow, this guy is a Moron.He is calling many war heroes who are democrats anti-Americans. I hope he does loose, some one in public office should never make those remarks Especially if they want reelection, just unacceptable.

    October 22, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. Nathan

    I have been faking it for so long, I am glad someone saw through my mask. This is SUCH a weight of my shoulders.

    October 22, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. Christopher

    There is something terribly wrong with Palin..Pro-American parts of the US???? The nerve of her. Define Pro- American?????

    I hope that when the McCain camp looses this election that everyone that thinks like Palin will retreat to Alaska with her and never be seen or heard from again.

    October 22, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. Wes ODonohue

    Did you say? "Liberals hate RICH americans!"

    October 22, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. K Rice

    Rep. R. Hayes is such a bum. He is yet another in a long line of intolerant Republicans that attack anyone who disagrees with their view.

    If anything, Rep. Hayes is acting like a Fascist. Remember the 1930's ?

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  16. Anthony

    I find it interesting that FOX News is not carrying this story, yet they are all over Biden for telling the truth that Obama would probably face a serious situation in his first six months. So much for unbiased journalism...

    Thank you CNN for telling ALL stories

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  17. NB

    This just in: Conservatives hate Liberals

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  18. Liz

    I would tend to agree with him considering the nasty campaign Obama and his supporters are running. Liberals are borderline radicals and they have absolutely nothing in common with conservative republicans.

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. Joe

    patriot said:

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

    Yeah, starting with Murtha!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. Denise Velez

    Well I'm a liberal. My ancestors fought in the American Revolution, the Mexican War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and Korea. Family members have served in the Army, Navy, and the Marines.

    Part of my family hails from Loudoun County VA – were there since the 1700's.

    I guess .Rep. Robin Hayes and Sarah Palin deem me to be un-American.

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Leah

    Looks like the definition of what you call "real" Americans is changing. We "real" Americans want what's best for this country and not just what's best for ourselves. The Republican philosophy of me, me, me ruling this country has come to an end. Thanks for leaving us such a huge mess to clean up.

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. s edwards

    I'm a liberal, and I love "Real Americans." Let's stop with hate each other if you don't think just like me and embrace what made America great... Diversity.

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  23. Joseph IRAQ WAR VET

    How did we go from Joe the plummer to JOE MCCARTHY?

    October 22, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  24. doolin1

    This endless sneering has got to end. How can there ever be a United States of America with this, us against them, madness? We have major problems, which will take great compromise and unity to solve. Jesus would weep at the anger and hate being spewed in God's name.

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  25. Nobama

    He's absolutely right.

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
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