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. liz

    This is EXACTLY why the Republican machine is going to lose on all fronts this year.

    October 22, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  2. would ya look at that?

    all i can say is lol at the hateful liberals on these blogs that prove his point

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

    Why are they PROUD when they say HATEFUL things, and sorry when the smart, decent Americans stand up and say NO MORE OF THIS HATE. Thank you smart, decent Americans who have stood up... we deserve better then these Congress people who are trying to divide us. This is WHY I VOTED FOR OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 22, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. John

    What an idiot; 'nough said.

    October 22, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. Steve

    It really bothers me when pols act as though we are stupid. Then again, we keep re-electing them.

    October 22, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  6. Dan from Philly

    Speaks to his lack of intelligence that he would deny saying something in the YouTube/cell phone camera age.

    When will the right-wing whiners learn that this country was founded on the premise that poltiical dissent is not only permitted but required. They would all have us marching the goosestep with whoever's in charge? That, my friends, is fascism.

    October 22, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Liberated!

    The whole Republican party is un-american.....have you heard them speak....they sprew nothing but hate and divisiveness....while the Democrats are talking about sharing the wealth and inclusiveness for the poor and middle! Hopefully, ALL these racist Republicans will be voted out of office on Nov. 4!

    October 22, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  8. Mickie in PA

    Let me try this again - I'm sure the soldiers and their families who are risking and giving their lives to keep even the neocons free, will appreciate hearing that if they are liberals they "hate America". Hope CNN actually prints this.

    October 22, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  9. Melissa

    Excuse me, Congressman, but I am a liberal, I work, I achieve, I believe in God, and I consider myself a REAL American. I certainly don't hate other Americans. Stick to the issues, please. It sounds like you are the ones who hate people who don't agree with you.

    October 22, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |

    You didn't mean it? You didn't mean it? I work,achieve,believe in God,
    and certainly don't hate Americans-–you complete and utter moron!

    You are the hypocritcal epitome of that you profess to oppose. Came
    out the wrong way? You meant we have political differences?

    First you didn't say it and then you did say it but it doesn't mean
    anything like what you really mean? Huh?

    Be afraid North Carolina, be afraid.

    October 22, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  11. Chris in NC

    In seems like making outlandish statements – then retracting them a day later – is a common theme throughout the McCain campaign. If they just stuck to the facts and the issues they wouldn't have this problem.

    October 22, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  12. Greg in Mpls

    Start giving to the Dem running against him!

    It's working here in Minnesota...after Bachmann opened her McCarthy-like mouth El Tinklenburg got close to one million bucks in 3 days! He now has ads on local TV, which he couldn't afford before this week.

    October 22, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  13. Independent Dave, Iowa

    Typical right-wing conservative christian in the same fold as Palin, Dobson, Falwell, Robertson. If you don't agree with them, you don't belong in this country, it's theirs and theirs alone. No wonder Republican ranks are on the decline.

    October 22, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  14. What's a VP's job? Ask a 3rd grader!

    Is there a website to sign a censure petition? I'll sign it!

    October 22, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  15. RLG

    Another incumbent that should be examining future career opportunities in the exciting field of garbage collection.

    Of course, Fox is always looking for news analysts, but that's a step down from trash removal.

    Thanks for the hate, Robin! See you on the unemployment line!

    October 22, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  16. the end

    the sooner these fossils leave office, the better.

    October 22, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  17. Jean

    Keep it up folks, you will help us win the election! These comments and others in recent days - like "the news media should investigate the congress to expose those who are pro American and anti American", show the true character of the fanatic and paranoid right wing. Oh, those would be the same ones that support the secessionists that the Palins "pal around" with!

    October 22, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. Markus

    I'm sick of being told I'm not American or patriotic because I don't vote for hate and decisiveness. This is a ploy, nothing else, played on unsuspecting people that just love their country. Nobody should believe this, but some people do and the Republicans just play off this every time. Anyone remember Kerry being labelled as unpatriotic by W? By the guy that was AWOL from his military service? It's despicable.

    October 22, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Mark

    Funny how these Republicans – who at one time recently tried to sell control of US ports to Dubai, an Arab nation, are the ones questioning anyone's patriotism, or whether anyone else is "Anti-American."

    How quickly they forget – but we don't!

    October 22, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. Knucklehead

    The "Real" America??? All right, that does it. Since the whole freaking country is all ready broke, let's have a civil war. Let's see how bad these neocons are. They need a heavy dose of "reality."

    October 22, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  21. Dave

    I am a Democrat, a Christian, a former Combat Officer in the US Army. I guess since I am a Democrat and lean liberal that makes me un-American?

    October 22, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  22. KS

    Quick question... what does it mean when over half of Americans are 'anti-American'? It is amazing that the GOP is embracing this idea like they are.

    October 22, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  23. american gal

    Pretty much why I voted straight Democrat yesterday for the first time in my life. I will be out of town on business on election day and I voted this early to be sure that my vote counts that is if the Republicans don't mess with my ballot. I am tired of Republicans being very out of touch with real Americans. I guess I am a liberal now!

    October 22, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  24. K

    Whatever happened to "By the people, for the people" ? a true democratic society. The Republican party is for a select few and could care less about america and the people in it, they are the party of "ME", not "WE" you guys are so over.

    October 22, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. virginia4barack

    sorry nancy but richmond is for barack also not just northern virginia and we are the heart of my state the real REAL VA barack the vote baby

    October 22, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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