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. Kathy in Ohio

    Wow......... all I can say is wow....... unbelievable.

    October 22, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. Lyn

    How do you fight ignorance? We Democrats – liberal and conservative alike – have fought and died to defend this country. We have sons and daughter, spouses, and parents that have and will continue to do so.
    How anyone can accuse me of not being patriotic – just because I do not share the same political views – I can only call ignorant. Patriotism isn't only waving the flag and saying "I'm a Republican" – it's defending the rights we all hold dear as Americans. One of those basic rights is my right to my own political views.

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

    Obviously real Americans feel that Democrats do understand them and have their interests in mind better than Republicans or they would not be weeks away from being the majority in both house and the White House. I'm tired of hearing Republican party members make these outlandish claims because they are unwilling to own up to the fact that people are seeing through their continuous pampering of the wealthy in our country.

    As for what makes someone pro-America I don't think seeing America in a different light makes anyone anit-America. We would not be the powerful nation that we are today if we were not constantly changing and evolving. That is how everything on this plant continues to succeed, you must be open for change whether it is changing yourself, or changing the way you view the world. We are entering into a point in our nations life where "change" is coming and you can be on board or you can be left behind.

    October 22, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  4. Royal from KC

    What's "real America"? What's a "liberal"?

    As far as I can tell, "real America" is people who agree with them and "liberals" are people who disagree.

    Speaking as a "liberal", I don't hate "real America", but I do wish some of these "real Americans" would shut up, go home and leave running the country to anyone who's interested in actually doing it.

    October 22, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. David W., Florida

    Typical 2008 GOP rehtoric. What's really sad is that these guys don't seem to really get that most Americans don't align with this approach. This is a strategy for a losing team.

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

    Despicable. I bet this guy would have a cabinet post in a McCain administration.

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

    Perfect comment to show how stupid you really are.....how to divide the country and set one against another.
    Somehow we have to forget this..

    October 22, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  8. Georgia Gal

    Nope I just can't stand clueless Republicans.

    October 22, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. Fatboi,Alexandria,La.

    It really seems the Republican party is out of the touch with the American pepople. Can anyone answer this question why does it seem like Republican's are rich people that think they are number 1 in this country and nothing anybody else has to say matters?

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

    I"m so tired of them saying they love America more than us "liberals". I just want to see us return to the values that this country was founded on – for starters, the constitution, and the separation of powers.(something Sarah Palin surely seems to know little about)

    October 22, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. Charles from GA

    That's pretty much reflecting current GOP mentality. They need to move into 21st century to understand the global trend and what people need. Just labeling people won't do anything good. Calling people unpatriot or communist if you don't agree with them is nothing but dividing the country. Look the poll, great majority of young people are leaning toward Democrat. That's the clear warning to GOP. Wake up GOP!!!

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

    I may not agree with what you have to say, congressman, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Why? Because this is America, and, believe it or not sir, this liberal is proud to be American in support of the nation conceived by our fore fathers.

    Perhaps it is you, congressman, who needs to investigate your patriotism rather than spout divisive propaganda...

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

    I can't imagine why people are fed up with our officials...

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

    The republicans are moving so far to the right its scary. So divisive, so much hate and intolerance and not to mention loads of hipocrits.

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

    Wonder what this fool thinks a real American is?? I served my country for 6 years in the US Army, I pay my taxes, I vote in all elections, I work 40+ hours a week in a blue-collar job AND I happen to be a Democrat...

    These people disgust me and if anyone hates "real Americans", it's these idiots!

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

    After all these years....now I know that everything I have believed has made America great make me anti-American. The politics of hate and division apparently are alive and well in the real America of Bush, Cheney and their legions.

    October 22, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  17. Leah J

    Too late! Many people are already contributing to his opponent. How dare he state that liberals are unAmerican! And he insinuates also we don't believe in God. Our country is tired of this divisiveness. Enough is enough. McCain and Palin are inciting all of this. I blame them equally.

    October 22, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. W. Abraham

    No what liberals hate is stupid people and ignorant people, the bulk of which just happen to be conservative Republicans or should I say extremist Americans.

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

    Then why did he deny it at first? Why not say at the onset that he was mis interpreted.
    We all know what it means, doesn't take rocket scientist to figure it out.
    Whatever, these neocons are digging their own grave.

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

    Someone should tell Mr Hayes that plenty of Liberals also work hard, achieve and believe in God. They also wrote the constitution of America, the declaration of independence, and the civil rights bill – or does that make them un-American?

    October 22, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. Ken

    These politicians who are spreading division are so blinded by their ambition that they fail to realize that they are indeed acting against America's best interest.

    October 22, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Frank the Tank

    Unfortunately it is true, the far left and the organizations that support them don't support many of my basic beliefs concerning gun ownership, hunting, taxes, and such... Many think the Republican party needs to tool down its platform, and I agree, but the far left is a very dangerous group as well... So where does that put all of us in the middle, at political mercy...

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

    Make no mistake: this and other Republicans know exactly what they are saying when they imply Democrats are un-American. What *IS* un-American is writing discrimination into the U.S. Constitution as Palin wants to do with an amendment banning same-sex marriage.

    October 22, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. Brain in DC

    At this stage we should have had people supporting Obama and people supporting McCain. Each think that their candidate is better. Unfortunately because of McCain/Palin's negative campaign and repubs dirty tricks we end up with people supporting Obama and people hating Obama and his supporters.
    To McCain/Palin: You are focusing so much on convincing me not to vote for Obama. But you are not presenting me with an alternative. You are not even presenting yourselves as better choice. So what? You don't want me to vote at all?

    October 22, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. Robyn

    "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.

    Honestly this guy is an IDIOT!!!!

    October 22, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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