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. wikwox

    This is the same hate speech conservatives have been puting out for 8 years. He forgot to add thier favorite: Traitor! Careful what you say say, Loser!

    October 22, 2008 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  2. WC from AL

    These kinds of "antics" have to stop. Demonizing fellow Americans is as un-American as it gets. It's a tactic that echoes 1930 Berlin. It's dangerous, and I hope the folks doing it get booted out of office this year once and for all. Perhaps - hoping, here - the record turn out is a signal this will happen. Enough of Karl Rove's political machine! Enough!

    October 22, 2008 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  3. scott

    he needs to retire soon

    October 22, 2008 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  4. Holly

    Wow. Just wow.

    October 22, 2008 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  5. Foreign observer

    That is dumb, dumb, dumb America that he stands for.

    October 22, 2008 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  6. jung

    he is speaking the truth.
    look what the libs did to general Petraeus in the New York slimes.
    the dems didn't say to much to support Petraeus. now colin powell stabbed the general in the back.

    October 22, 2008 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  7. andrea

    what a fascist!!!!

    October 22, 2008 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  8. obama voter

    Why are republicans so quick to toss out "unamerican" or "traitor"-type labels on anyone who doesn't follow their ideology? They sound more and more like the terrorists they were supposed to be protecting us from

    October 22, 2008 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  9. alvino

    What is getting really scary is that over 37,000 voters have been removed from the voter list in Colorado. After Harris removed 57,000 voters in Florida in 2000, Bush won by a handful.

    October 22, 2008 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  10. Michelle D. - Atlanta, GA

    And we wonder why this kind of rhetoric has backfired on McCain? Republicans only seek to criticize and punish those who have a different point of view from them. That kind of mindset has destroyed our once great Nation. I pity them for their small-mindedness.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  11. alvino

    What bothers me is that over 37,000 voters have been removed from the list of voters in Colorado. Harris removed 57,000 voters from the list in Florida in 2000 and Bush won by a handful.

    October 22, 2008 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  12. FLORIDA for Obama

    Way to go!!

    I consider myself a 'liberal' AND a 'REAL AMERICAN". This is typical RIGHT WING nut jobs trying to DIVIDE America into 'REAL' AMERICANs and 'FAKE' AMERICANs.



    October 22, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  13. fortunatus

    old man,think before you say your nonsense. it's a shame to you and McCain, it shows how unserious you are.

    October 22, 2008 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  14. Tony Hare

    Real Americans hate people who label Americans as real or fake. Who has elected you to define who is a "real" American or not. How dare do you divide this country.
    I hope the people of North Carolina vote this bumb out.

    October 22, 2008 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  15. NC Female Christian

    I am a life-long Tarheel. I love my faith, my country, my family and my career. I am thrilled to be early voting today to vote AGAINST Mr. Hayes.

    October 22, 2008 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  16. Josh

    This is right in line with McCain calling Western PA the most patriotic part of America. I dont claim to be a member of any political party. In the 2004 election, after some time I found Bush to be the better choice of Kerry, but now I am voting for Obama. To say that I am a liberal and that I hate America is ridiculous and it's time for our politicians to wake up and realize that the generation that is taking over this country has different ideals then our present politicians.

    October 22, 2008 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  17. alvino

    So what else is new? Hayes lied by saying he did not make the statement, then admitted he lied, I do not feel that either Hayes or Bachman deserve another term, both lack tolerance for diversity. On the other hand, the McCain Campaign's remarks are unexcusable, almost Fascist in nature.

    October 22, 2008 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  18. alvino

    Put this with McCain's comment that western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic part of the country, and that brings the total to 5 people completely out of touch with reality.

    October 22, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  19. Gerald

    How pathetic can the Democrats get? They are the biggest bunch of whiners that I've ever seen. I have heard all the rhetoric concerning Sarah Palin's in-experience, but very little about Barak Obama's. Sarah has been the target of political jokes and comedy shows, but it seems as though Obama is off limits. Just like kids in kindergarten, the media has to play the game of turning words in ways that they know was not meant in the way they are being portrayed. However, Rep. Hayes is absolutely correct (in the way he meant to be understood) – the far-left liberals are trying to obscure the Constitution and undermine the foundations that our country was founded on. Get over it and get on with the election.

    October 22, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  20. Anonymous

    United we stand, divided we fall. GOP is dividing this country by hate, therefore GOP wants America to fall l!

    October 22, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  21. EJR

    Sometimes it is better to be thought a moron, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt. He has convinced me.

    BTW I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Does that means I don't care either way about America?

    October 22, 2008 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  22. Fritz B

    Wait a couple of weeks; then you'll really have something to whine about.

    All hatred, including political hatred, ultimately devours itself.

    Bon appetit!

    October 22, 2008 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  23. JImmy in California

    It is unfortunate that this election is turning into a free for all. It appears that McCain is so hell bent on having it his way he has giving up his honor and allowed himself to be taken down a path of destruction that is taking the country with him all for the sake of winning. It isn't worth it.

    I remember as a child I used to make the statement that someone ( a friend) had changed and my mother always told me that as we grow, we do not change. We simply become more of what we already are.

    October 22, 2008 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  24. robert ga cobb

    Here we go again, Republicans are marking time instead of joining the new trend. I don't mean giving up your believes and culture, but help shape the future. Standing aloof and acusing everyone else of not being patriotic will back fire. You are quickly becoming the minority. What I will suggest is that you change according to the times. Young people cannot relate to your agenda. On things like Gay marriage , you cannot use brute force to change that , you need to be compationate and lead by example. if you spend more time promoting the advantages of a man and woman relationship , with time you will succeed.

    October 22, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  25. American Loving Liberal

    Glad to see the GOP is working so hard to unite us all in these tough economic times. Obama/Biden - put an end to the hate and mistrust!

    October 22, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
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