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. MattH

    A republican said this?!
    What a shock!

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Dave

    I am a Democrat and could be called a "Liberal". Before I retired, I was also called Major in the US Army and have a pair of Purple Hearts and 2 tours in Iraqi.

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. Erik

    This guy flat-out lied about what he said. Let's hope the good people of Virginia retire him in November.

    –Erik the Stagehand (A proud American from the Real Pennsylvania)

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. trp

    My only regret is that he's apologizing for what he said. Sometimes the truth hurts. Get over it.

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Thomas

    As a Military veteran, I am offended by the comments by Hayes.

    This is NOT the America I fought for and bled for.

    America is for every citizen.

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  6. Senator Hayes' Boyfriend

    It was not accurately quoted says the neocon artist.

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  7. Scott

    Typical Republiklan tactics.

    October 22, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  8. T-Wag

    Wow, really? You have to be conservative to work, and achieve and believe in God? No wonder I feel so confused. I work VERY hard for my money – as a single mom, I have to. I also have achieved GREAT things in my life, putting myself through college (with financial aid of course) and I also have a very strong belief in God. And what do you know? I'm one of those supposedly "un-American liberals" that should hate all of that stuff. I wish politicians would stop playing the "Liberals are un-American" card – it's getting tired and quite frankly just isn't true.

    October 22, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  9. Pete

    I love the part where he tells the crowd to make sure "we don't say something stupid, make sure we don't say something we don't mean."

    How brilliant is that? His constituents must be so proud!

    October 22, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. Paint VA Blue!

    Sounds like the sermon I heard from Jerry Falwell.. he sounds really patriotic.. not!

    October 22, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. James from Kansas City

    Hayes and Bachmann have generated thousands of dollars for their democratic opponents. Keep saying these boneheaded things as far as I'm concerned.

    October 22, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  12. Steven

    So what does Joe the Plumber think about Sarah Palin recently spending $150,000 on clothes?

    October 22, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  13. AT in NJ

    I can't believe this real vs. fake America hasn't stopped. This feels like the beginning of the Civil War. I can't believe people in our Congress are making statements like this.

    October 22, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  14. proud army and navy mom

    what this article didn't say is how many times he flat out lied, denied about these statements that he made.

    The congressman only admit this when he actually heard an audio tape where he was caught red-handed. If there would have been no tape, he would have never admitted it. Repugs are scary dangerous!

    October 22, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  15. Bridget

    I'll be donating to his opponent's campaign...

    October 22, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  16. Gamo

    Simply Sad.

    October 22, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  17. Fan of Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddows

    It is time for us to stand up and vote for non racist officials for each and every state. This goes to Michelle Bachman from Minnesota. I am amazed with how open she is and we need to kick these individuals out of these positions.

    October 22, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  18. RAM

    Sound's like Bachmann's name ought to be at the top of any investigation of anti-Americanism.

    October 22, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  19. Rob

    Liberals do hate the idea of personal responsibility and freedom through limited government - things that define what it means to be American. So I don't see this as being too far off.

    October 22, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  20. Pat

    Are these guys taking their cues from the McCain campaign, or is McCain just following suit with the general tone of the Republicans these days? That's kind of like the chicken and egg question.

    October 22, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  21. Rita Montgomery, AL

    I am a very open-minded democrat who works hard and is a christian and I do believe that this is how many republicans really feel. I feel that they are the truly un-American because to me America is all about freedom of speech and ideas, tolerance and diversity.

    October 22, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  22. Jim - Kingston, Pa

    Please remove all of these "good ole boys" from all levels of government....they do absolutely nothing besides divide and instill hate.

    October 22, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  23. Daryl

    If being a "Real American" is being a greedy pig then I can definitely say I am and will never be a real American.

    In fact if being a republican is being a real American then I can say I have o intention of ever being a "Real American"

    Real Americans stand up and challenge everything.. Liberals are more American then any "Real American" by a far margin.

    Fact... republicans have raped the term American

    October 22, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  24. JB


    I hope divisive folks like this are beaten this election. We've had enough of that brand of politics.

    October 22, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. Bob Texas

    The GOP sound like they believe they own America and the other parties including Independents are just renting. Does this sound sort of Nazi like? Or you could say holier than thou attitude!

    October 22, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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