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. joeyromeo

    Ahh, the last delicious, fevered gasps of a dying party: one last stab in the dark at dividing America once and for all. Sorry, GOP, but your ship done sunk. Don't forget to tip your waitress– you can afford it.

    October 22, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  2. amos

    desperate times call for desperate actions dont they?

    October 22, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  3. mel in pa

    Everyone misspeaks from time to time, but it's not coincidental that these four folks have done so in this past week. They have been invited to do so by the tone of this campaign and their natural inclination to be bigoted. The candidates, surrogates, and supporters of this ticket have been tossing out terms like terrorist, radical extremist, leftist, and socialist. They use terms like liberal and anti-American in the same breath to incite fear and loathing. It is divisive and destructive. Country first?? Not with this group!!

    October 22, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  4. rcf

    As we know, all Democrats are not liberals. And, liberals don't hate Americans, but we do hate stupid generalizations. He may be my elected representative, but he doesn't represent me. Is it too much to ask for public figures to think before they speak? My campaign donation goes to his opponent, it's as simple as that.

    October 22, 2008 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  5. AdamT

    This does not shock me one bit, at a time when we need unity, these kind of radicals come out and try to divide with their HATE. Liberal or Conservative, WE ARE ALL AMERICANS, when will these folks get that throught their heads and to think they want to be called leaders!!!!

    October 22, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  6. jj An American for Obama

    I have an advanced degree, I have a job, I believe in God, I am an American and I already cast my early vote for Obama. In my opinion, someone who sees the country in these divisive us or them categories is not fit for service as a representative in high office in a country as diverse and beautiful as the United States of America. Perhaps he should do some soul searching because it seems he has disdain for many of the same people that he believes he is qualified to represent.

    My father's family came over with the Davenport company and helped settle Connecticut and I don't think that makes me any more a REAL American than someone that will be casting their first vote as a citizen in this election.

    Blue State, Red States, Purple States - We are ALL AMERICANS.

    October 22, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  7. Dawn

    Keep opening your mouth, we are all Americans, can I say this about you Gov.Palin. One word....AIP...How un-American.... These small town America are hurting badly. Remember that most American's don't have jobs...Hilary Clinton said it best..."JOBS... BABY... JOBS"
    McCain please teach her the US Constitution on the duties of the VP..Two words DICK CHANEY...

    GO Obama/Biden08/12

    October 22, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  8. BGIV in NC

    These idiots seem to have a firm grasp on who hates who. Liberals hate America, God hates homosexuals, etc. They spend a lot of time telling all of us who hates who and why their way of thinking is the correct "moral " way.

    The truth is, I believe, that they are just fearful people. They mask this by saying that all of us who are not narrow minded buffoons are full of hate. I do have to admit that I do carry some disdain for some, but it's certainly not towards God and most certainly not towards my country. Most importantly, I would never presume to speak for God. That position is not available and even if it were, I seriously doubt that any of us would qualify to apply for it.

    I'll leaving the hating to those that very openly espouse it.

    October 22, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  9. Aliou salam

    Mcain and republicans are dividing this country. time to get rid of them and unite the country.

    October 22, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  10. ABLOWE

    These statements about liberals spouting from the mouths of politicians, Fox radio and television hosts and the likes of Limbaugh and Liddy and North...result in shootings such as that in Tennessee at the Unitarian Church.

    October 22, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  11. Dave in Charlotte

    These populist cretins have to be thrown out. Glad I had a chance to vote against Hayes last week.

    October 22, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  12. scdemocrat

    I only wish I lived 8 miles north of where I do in SC so I could vote against this idiot. Why is it that Republicans think they are the only ones who believe in God? I always thought there was this saying Christian lived by, Judge not lest ye be judged. I guess when I take my family to church on Sunday I am going against my liberal leanings. I sure hope St. Peter is more tolerant than some of you right wing idealogues, for YOUR sake.

    October 22, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  13. Bruce

    This is a perfect example of how damageing McCain and his HATE politics has brought out the worst in people. At a time that we need to unify the country they continue to try to split the country into silly catagories with old lables that really have no meaning. WE THE PEOPLE are all AMERICANS. If you do not support ALL OF US you are NOT FIT to Represent ANY OF US

    October 22, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  14. john

    Not what he meant to say? This is one of the reasons that everyone holds politicians in such low regard. If he said it own up to it and move on, don't try to weasel out of it. I consider myself a liberal on some things and a moderate to conservative on others but I am sick to death of republicans or democrats who seem to think that if you do not agree with 100% of their positions you are somehow un-american. Down that road lies the Taliban, Al-Quaeda, Hugo Chavez and any other fanatics you care to name. I served for 22+ years in the US military and I am voting for Barack Obama. If anybody out there in McCain-land thinks that they have cornered the market on patriotism they are sadly mistaken and just plain SAD.

    October 22, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  15. Ron

    I am ashamed to say I was a Republican for most of my life after watching this election. The republican party has put us back 40 years with their anti American racist filled hate speeches. Disgusting.

    October 22, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  16. JR

    Though I am sure John McCain does not support the frightening notion that this pathetic man has expressed, there is no question that his campaign has sought and embraced the support of people who hold this view. I think there should be a new term to describe them: Hatriots. McCain and Palin should both specifically reject this man's statement, or it is fair to accuse them of endorsing it. This was an approved speaker at a McCain rally.

    October 22, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  17. Mark

    If you change it to "left wing liberals hate real Americans" then the statement is true, so why make a big deal. Just look at what they say and what they want.

    October 22, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  18. Kimberly

    Hayes doesn't deserve to serve Republicans or Democrats any longer. "Liberals" work hard and own businesses. This remark is pure ignorance and stupidity....a common theme coming from the right side of the isle. It's funny how you don't hear it suggested from the Democratic party that Republicans or "righties" are anti american. That's because it's just plain obsurd.

    October 22, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  19. Typical White Man

    I question their Patriotism every day, why wouldn't you. If you are a fan of a team but you hate the coach, complain about every play and treat half of the other fans like trash, then you aren't a very good fan. Same goes for being a citizen.

    October 22, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  20. Anthony D

    typical neo-conservative swine. I honestly cannot take another republican president. I do not hate my country because i have a different view on the problems or question authority when in my heart i believe they are wrong. they need to stop turning patriotism into a political witch hunt.

    how will the neo cons feel for the riots they will certainly cause with this kind of hate mongering?

    October 22, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  21. Howard

    Is divisiveness and hate a real American value? Why in this time of trouble are we still not working together and treating each other with disrespect. I am tired of all this stick to the issues. McCain loves God, country and family, Obama loves God, country and family. Ok, now lets go back to the economy and infrastructure our banks and bridges are falling. I personally make less than $200,000 a year and will be voting for Obama. Please note how I can endorse one candidate without hurling insults at the other candidate or the people who vote for him.

    October 22, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  22. Leslie

    It is unbelieveable that the right wing of the Republican party feels that if you don't think (ie, vote) their way, not only are you "un-American," but that you are "un-Godly " as well. Since when was God a member of any political party? I have read too many blogs on too many political websites lately from people who feel the same as this misguided politican. I would never vote for any candidate who spews forth this diatribe of hate and trash. The founding fathers made a smart decision to separate the powers of church and state. Don't these people know their history?
    I beg of you. Look at each candidate's merits only. Don't listen to people who talk of hate and "we're better than you because..." rhetoric. Vote for the candidates whose views are most like your own. That's all any of us can do.

    October 22, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  23. johnny2 in kalamazo

    Liberals DO hate real Americans, and it is accurate to question their patriotism. Their actions are almost always contrary to America's best interests. Like nominating a socialist for president. Or forcing us to buy foreign energy. Or wanting to surrender in Iraq. The list goes on and on...

    October 22, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  24. Harry Nichols

    I am a liberal. I am a true American – or at least I was born there. I have a son-in-law fighting in Afghanistan. I have a gay relative who is a fine and upstanding individual. Who is this man to make such broad reaching statements? Does he actually know many liberals, or does he just know who they are? Liberals are a very widely opinionated group, so far to the left that they make you blink, so near to the center they make you wonder. That nearly sounds like a description of conservatives except you'd need to replace "left" with "right".

    October 22, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  25. Ion Hypocrisy

    These people are dangerous to America's freedom. VERY dangerous.

    October 22, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
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