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. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    At least he got one thing right: "Liberals are advocating higher taxes..." Even an imbecile can understand that much.

    October 22, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  2. KJ

    More of this divisive bullcrap? Please get these rascals out of office! Democrats 08!

    October 22, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. American living in Canada

    People like this are UN American!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 22, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. Accountant Guy

    Maybe all the Republicans should move to Alaska with Palin when she leaves and goes back. Then they can have a whole state of "Real Americans". Get Out and Barack The Vote!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 22, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. amc

    The only reason he admitted to saying this is because it was caught on video. If you haven't seen it you should- there is no saying that he didn't mean what he said. He states it out clear is day and it is not even possible to string it some other way. I wonder how the Republicans going around and declaring certain people and/or certain areas either pro-american or anti-american. It's along the Bush lines of "your either with us or against us". Spewing this junk is just adding into the craziness that has been seen at the McCain/Palin rallies lately.

    October 22, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. Billy

    More hate and division from the party that has nothing but.

    October 22, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. matt in boston

    Yeah, i really *hate* America. Give me a break. I hate ignorance.

    October 22, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  8. Charles L. Shaw, Liverpool, NY

    But what will the voters do? Will they vote for the same guys again? Obama? Mc Cain? If you what change, then you will have to change your vote, NO Democrats, NO Republicans, and most of all NO INCUMBANTS WHO VOTED FOR WALL STREET OVER THE AMERICAN CITIZEN!

    October 22, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. Tony

    Since liberals are now advocating Socialism, and Socialism is un-American, he's right: liberals do hate America and real Americans. The Founding Fathers envisioned a land of opportunity, not a land of government handouts and status quo for everybody.

    October 22, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  10. Sara

    I really want to know when Conservatives became the experts of what a "Real" American is? Who exactly made them the deciders on this?

    October 22, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  11. RWG

    Liberals love America and actually believe we can always improve for the betterment of all. If God is watching, he must be terribly dissapointed in the Conservatives that use his name to dismiss those less fortunate and perpetuate hatred and fear.

    October 22, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. yen

    It is the Bush and the Republicans who brought unprecedented melt down in this country. Are they less patriotic because of that? They mismanaged everything. Stop talking about patriotism. Those who are talking about patriotism now are those who are trying to creat diversion of the issues and they are dumb!

    October 22, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Baze

    Bye bye re-election for this crony!


    October 22, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. Muckinello

    This is typical GOP politics. I hope Americans, both real and non, repudiate these politics of divisiveness

    October 22, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. NYbywayof Texas

    Would someone please define "Real Americans", please! Republicans are using this title as though there were a difference from those who are born here and those who were naturalized here. This is very divisive and needs to stop before some extremist takes it seriously and hurt someone.

    October 22, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. Missmn

    He says he was trying to keep it respectful? How exactly is syaing that liberals hate real Americans respectful? How is implying that some Americans are real and others not real respectful? Please. He's already lied about saying it – why should anyone believe his explanation now?

    October 22, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. Open Your 3rd Eye






    October 22, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  18. Independent

    Looking over the hateful comments from these obviously liberal readers, it appears that the congressman's statement was right
    on the money !!!!

    October 22, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  19. besty ross

    First Hayes lied and said the reporter was an "irresponsible journalist"

    Second Hayes CONTINUE the lie and said he could "find as many people to say he didn't say it as the reporter could find that he DID say it."

    Third .... the audio came out with Hayes divisive quote ....
    THEN .... it was not his fault that it came out of his mouth wrong.

    October 22, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  20. stephen

    help pull the cart or get out of the cart – liberals want government to control everything and think big government is the key to their happiness.

    October 22, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  21. Pat

    Another one to vote out of office!

    October 22, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. independent in CA

    His liberal constituents should take the hint and vote for someone else.

    He should get a Darwin award nomination this year.

    October 22, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  23. Bob in Austin, TX.

    That's about enough. Right now, I don't think I'd vote for a Republican if he was running for dog-catcher.... un-opposed...

    October 22, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. Sam, Lincoln, NE

    Liberals don't hate "real Americans"; neocon whack jobs like Congressman Hayes do. They hate any real American who dares to criticize them; further, they say offensive things like Hayes did because they think their own constituencies are so stupid and gullible that they'll believe anything they say. That's not standing up for Americans; that's the desperate words of a Republican politician trying to keep his job. Hopefully this clown will be out of a job next month.

    October 22, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  25. Sue

    So sad when people have to say anything to try to get a vote, usually it will back fire on them.........

    October 22, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
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