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. Cincinnatian

    this guy is a moron and deserves to lose his seat in congress

    October 22, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. Rosa, b'ham al

    These crazy nutcase conservatives are the ones that really hate America. Look how they drove us into the ground over the past 8 years. Their policies will be the end of us all.

    October 22, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. Uncle Sam

    The problem is that Americans hate each other.

    October 22, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. A.P.

    When did serving your country by participating in government become anti-american?

    October 22, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  5. Ross

    Is it possible to find a BIGGER IDIOT than this guy. Is he not aware that more "liberals" then "conservatives" across the nation have served in the military. If people like this and the nut basket from Minn. can't be constructive and stand up FOR America, they need to stop attacking her.

    October 22, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Rosemarie


    October 22, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  7. John

    I'm a liberal and also a Combat Vet.

    October 22, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. greedyboy

    A lot is being said about "who is racist, who is patriotic, who is the real American". The truth is, we are all the "real American". The campaigns try to divide, but whether you support Obama or not, he is right.. "there is not a red America, there is not a blue America, there is The United States of America." Now start acting like it and vote for the candidate of your choice.

    October 22, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  9. Nik

    NOT THIS TIME....Americans are rejecting leaders that want to divide the country. Too much is at stake for this nation that we all love and we will not stand for social topics that are divisive. No way, no how!

    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. Hive

    No doubt Republican's love America, they just hate half the people living it it.

    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  11. william hanley

    Rep. Hayes; Wow! I guess that guy would really go to bat for you even if you disagreed with his party affiliations! That statement gives new meaning to the phrase. "You're either with us or against us". Sadly, that's what we have become. A nation of totally divided. 48% one side, 48% the other. 4% that floats in between. We need help.

    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  12. poodiesmom

    This liberal considers herself a real American. Why would I hate myself? I only hate the ignorant self-serving remarks of politicians running for office.

    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  13. Harrison



    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  14. Dez

    He denied that he made the statement several times until he found out it was on tape.

    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  15. BS

    These people are way too far to the right and are actually a little scary.

    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  16. Matt in California

    Way to rise above the fray, "Snarling Johnny". "Typical Liberal response."

    October 22, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. Lara

    The only hate I see in this campaign seems to be coming from the people who attend McCain/Palin meetings. Oh and the ones who are saying Senator Obama doesn't have experience seems he had the experience and the intelligents to know we never should have went into Iraqi.

    October 22, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. Bubba

    Dang those newfangled recording machines!

    October 22, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  19. Linda from Prescott AZ

    This is a frightening time. People are coming out of the woodwork and saying such vile things.
    I'm grateful that we have a choice, that's why I voted for Obama/Biden.

    October 22, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  20. susan50

    Statements like this are the crap that's got to stop! How dare someone (read: Palin) say that they are more American than the rest of us.

    Unfortunately a good number of politicians are making their point by using very inflamatory adjectives.

    October 22, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  21. Sue Harris

    I work very hard and have achieved goals in my life and I view myself as a liberal. I also think I am patriotic. I am tired of the Republican party putting forth the notion that unless you are a rabid conservative you are unamerican and not patriotic. Tone it down. We don't all have to believe the same thing you do.

    And frankly after having control of everything for the last 8 years, look at what Republicans have achieved–the worst economy in living memory and a total mess of foreign policy.

    October 22, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  22. Father Flager

    Well said, he should have included the ACLU in that mix

    October 22, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    who is this MORON?

    October 22, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. Sara

    I'm so sick of this, what are they trying to do, start up a new civil war?

    October 22, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. farker

    typical. lie about what you said, then when confronted with video evidence, try to lie your way out of that.

    politicians are scum, and republicans are the worst

    October 22, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
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