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. eileen

    What a divisive comment, but it is a reflection of the way the Republican party has been operating the past 8 years, how sad to be inciting anger and agression within our Country. This in not putting country first...one Civil War was more than enough.
    I suggest the Republicans concentrate on issues and the economy.
    Go Obama/ Biden.

    October 22, 2008 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  2. judy

    So, what this man is saying is that my father, who was a captain in the US Army in the second world war , is anti-American because he voted for candidates of the Democratic Party? This man should be ashamed of himself.

    October 22, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  3. Voter

    If McCain wins, it wouldn't surprise me if he tries to outlaw the Democratic party, because of statements like this that reflect his party's thinking. It would be done for reasons of 'national security'.

    Despite the furious backpedaling, I'm sure this guy meant every word of what he said, just like Palin means everything she says and only says 'Oops, sorry' when someone calls them on it. But their first words are far more honest.

    October 22, 2008 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  4. kiop

    So what's the story here? Everyone knows liberals hate America.. they want a socialist society where the government has control over how much everyone can have. And with Obama being one step away from the presidency, and Pelosi and Reid controlling Congress, there is nothing to stop them this time.

    October 22, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  5. JK

    Why do Republicans keep saying that "liberals want to raise taxes." Last time I checked, EVERYONE wants to spend a lot of money. Unless the Republicans plan to manufacture it, I suppose that it will have to come from higher taxes. And so, the question is: who experiences higher taxes? Republicans want to tax the poor, while the prevailing national view (and that of the Democratic ticket) is to tax those who earn more. While I agree it's important not to punish success, it's very important to bear in mind the current situation.

    As for me, I would prefer that those in the best position to pay, pay. And that actually means that I will probably face higher taxes – under either Obama of McCain. But for those who earn less, I would prefer that they get a break in taxes. And that is what Obama plans to do.

    October 22, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  6. Ashley

    This shows once again how desperit the McCain-Palin campaign is. It is very sad to see how the Republicans are trying to divide this country with these dispicable remarks!

    October 22, 2008 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  7. bleu

    There is so much prejudice and lies in this campaign it makes me sick. And to read Cindy McCain's sniveling about how the McCain campaign has been so mistreated is disgusting. This is not how you get my and America's independent vote.

    October 22, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  8. Richard

    It's funny how these guys back pedal when they ar caught. What liberals hate are scoundrels and they know who they are, we don't have to enumerate that. Hopefully, some of the liberals and some of the independant voters will let him know come electionday. Independants have to realize they are next on the list!

    October 22, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  9. Bob

    This man knew EXACTLY what he was saying. This is the true sentiment of the Republican party these days. Sarah Palin said she was happy to be in parts of the country that were 'pro America'. Our election system is getting 3rd Worldish and it is frightening. The joy of having the right to vote is turning into a nightmare – Aren't they Mr. Hayes?

    October 22, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  10. Dan

    Who appointed the Radical Right as the standard bearer in this country? They are as far out of the mainstream as the Radical Left.

    The span from Liberal to Conservative is a continuum, and most people are not at the extremes. I would suggest that real Americans are those that unite and solve problems for the common good of all Americans.

    Finally, isn't this claim of Real American title a contradiction in terms? If most American voters do not agree with your positions, how can you be the real American?

    October 22, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  11. Republican for Obama

    By definition a liberal is a person: "Not limited to traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry" or in another context, "Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded". Rep. Robin Hayes is way out of line in saying "liberals hate real Americans". If anything I think his views put a big question mark on his motives.

    October 22, 2008 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  12. D. Dean

    As often as "conservatives" use the excuse that something they said, ". . . came out wrong," one cannot help but wonder if they could be trusted to deal with sensitive matters of State in situations where the wrong thing, said to the wrong person, could have catastrophic consequences.

    October 22, 2008 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  13. dan

    Yet another example of the divisive political strategies used by a party that is clearly desperate. Who are the people that "hate" Americans, those that exercise their constitutional right to question the policies of their government or those using fear tactics to strike a sharp divide in this country for their own personal gain?

    October 22, 2008 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  14. Peter

    After initially denying he ever said what he did, Hayes says that it came out the wrong way and didn't mean it. Right – and I am the King of Siam! So folks, whom are you going to believe: Hayes or your lying eyes/ears?

    October 22, 2008 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  15. big rob

    I want know what defines a 'real' american. You guys don't mind taking my 'real' taxes.

    October 22, 2008 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  16. V. M

    Strong families?!!? Majority of American households are comprised of a single parent not the "Leave it to Beaver" cookie cutter household we believe still exists as a majority. Out of touch...

    October 22, 2008 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  17. Joe - Wilmington, DE

    Will someone please tell me exactly what a "real" American is?

    October 22, 2008 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  18. Brian

    Well Mr, Hayes it is not the liberals who have spent the last eight years running this country into the ground, ruining the economy and destroying our credibility and status around the world and destablizing both the Middle East and the world economy. I hope that the voters in your state send your hate mongering behind back under whatever rock you climbed out from under. To protest what has been going on in the Bush Administration is the highest form of patriotism. You sir are a fool and considering what the Republican Party has done to this country you should not be criticizing anyone else or calling their love of country into question.

    October 22, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  19. American

    Sir, your intention were loud and clear. What you meant to say is why should I have to pay taxes when there are people whom I look down on. We get it, now step aside.

    October 22, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  20. sharon, newport news, virginia

    Hopefully you and Michelle Bachman of Minnesota will be viewing Congressional activities from the TV in your living room. When did being liberal become satanic and anti American? I guess whatever you and Bachman are is what everyone is suppose to be and if you are not, your opinion does not count. Wow a new form of prejudice just what this country needs!!!!!!! Terrorist, communist, socialist, Muslim, Liberal Did I leave out any label the Democrats have used to smear people??????

    October 22, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  21. Angela

    Wow, the "real America", the real Virginia, and "real Americans," what are these ill-informed separatist politicians and political operatives been? We are all Americans living in the SAME America. How dare they try to make this into two countries. In case they have forgotten, the war between the states "Civil War," is over.

    How about we focus on the issues and silliness. Perhaps that's why the McCain Campaign is sinking faster than a rock in the river. We are in an economic crisis....now is not the time to stoop to pettiness and coded hate words. I now know that McCain will do anything to win an election, even if it means dividing a nation he claims to love.

    October 22, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  22. PamShaw

    Thats funny, I don't hate America. In fact, America is near the top of my list of things I love. Along with God and my family. Oh yeah, I'm a liberal too. How do you like them apples, Mr. Congressman?

    October 22, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  23. CS in PA

    What have we become? It's not just the 'average Joe' spewing hateful and spiteful communications, it's our supposedly 'leadership' taking part.

    We are ONE nation – since when is it 'un-American' to disagree with others?

    Stop the bleeding.

    October 22, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  24. Oma

    This needs to change!

    October 22, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  25. Dennis

    What an idiot.

    October 22, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
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