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. Matt

    I get that some conservatives think that liberals hate America because we are more willing to question and criticize our government on foreign policy issues. The problem is that liberals view non-Americans as equal human beings with equal human rights (ridiculous, I know). But this criticism does not mean that we hate America, when my children misbehave I scold them and attempt to correct their behavior, not because I hate them but because I love them and I take the responsibility for thier upbringing. In the same way, liberals believe that the citizens in any democracy should take responsibility for the acitons of their government. We don't want to just SAY that America is a great nation and moral leader and have those be empty words, we want America to actually BE a great nation and moral leader. Now how is that unpatriotic?

    October 22, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  2. Ted, Washington DC

    What he reallymeant was that free loaadig Democrats have no business being in America. Comfort for them is somewhere in Europe and not in real America. He meant that young Obama's idea of spreading the wealth does not belong to real America. Even Russia realized that sreading the wealth leaves everybody poor and hungry

    October 22, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  3. Arizona Dem

    These are they type of poeple that are out dated and say mean things. A new generation is coming wether it be Democrat or Republican and can make a better future for all of us.

    October 22, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  4. MaJiS

    How does gay marriage affect strong marriages? Are there that many heterosexual marriages on the borderline of failure if only gay marriage were legal? What a ridiculous argument. Even more ridiculous than characterizing someone's patriotism based on political affiliation. And, try reading Obama's platform: the intent is NOT to raise taxes, but modify taxation to be fair to everyone, not just the top 1% of the income bracket. Convince me you are worthy of my vote by selling your platform, not slandering the other party's.

    October 22, 2008 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  5. spncr james

    advocating policies like gay marriage that I feel undermine strong families," he said.
    JUST EXACTLY HOW IS GAY MARRIAGE UNDERMINING MY "HETERO" MARRIAGE ? sounds like a weak marriage to begin with then....

    October 22, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  6. Jacob

    I agree 100% with him.

    October 22, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  7. Rick

    Look at Obama, no flag pin, does not hold hand on heart, no flag, so why question the congressman on patriotism, you should be questioning Obama about his, because I dont see much with him on Patriotism...........

    October 22, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  8. Bruce

    McCain and Palin are getting desperate. They see the numbers and they FLIP FLOP on their own talking points trying to say something anythng to sound like thye know somethng. Thye only prove the point they KNOW NOTHING. Obama needs your VOTE.

    Obama can't win if YOU forget to VOTE.

    The lines might be long but hang in YOUR FUTURE IS AT RISK.

    Obama needs YOUR VOTE

    October 22, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  9. Independant.

    I didn't say that ... I've never said that ... that's not what I said .... the liberal media elite are out to get me ... I did not say any such thing ... oh, you've got film ... yes I said that but it's not what I really meant.

    October 22, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  10. djatty

    Liberals don't hate real Americans. They just hate Rep. Robin Hayes.

    October 22, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |

    What's the problem with the statement, they do!

    October 22, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  12. J. Sully, New York

    Divisiveness, negative rhetoric, hate filled rallies – that's the far right!

    How dare they criticize the patriotism of liberal America. We're just as patriotic. I'm a spiritual, God fearing Christian. I pray for my kids each day and the kids I work with in school, yet because I'm voting for Obama, these right wing nuts like Limbaugh challenge my patriotism and spirituality. I can't wait till the Dems take over in November. Then the right will see how good people run a country – without hate and fear mongering, negativism and divisiveness. I'm sick of Limbaugh and all his AM radio cronies, Michelle Bachman, Palin, and this guy Hayes – all of you self rightious do gooders. Get ready for the liberal (and sometimes not so liberal) Dems to show you how a country should be run.

    October 22, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  13. PING

    As someone proud to be an American and a Democrat it is truly disturbing to read and see all of the recent hate rhetoric flowing from the mouths of the Republican candidates campaigning across the US.

    However, I am confident that as the country continues to evolve that we'll less and less of this in elections down the road.

    October 22, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  14. Stephen

    What else is new with the republicans. This seems to be the only way they think they can win, stir up hate and fear, and now of even fellow citizens of this country.. Welcome back McCarthyism... And McCarthy was a republican.

    Very sad that this Party has to resort to this kind of campaining.. very sad, and SHAME on all who follow it and not question.

    October 22, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  15. Justin

    It's taking this liberal a lot not to hate hatemongers like Rep. Hayes and his ilk, but I'll continue to try. I'll just dislike him enough to hope he doesn't get re-elected.

    October 22, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  16. Daniel

    Just out of interest, what is a real American, or a pro-American, as opposed to a fake American or a con-American? Is a governor that spends tax payer's money to take her children to stay in luxury hotels and to conferences, which are not necessary for them to attend a real-American? Is someone that is willing to focus on trying to tear down one candidate's integrity and make deliberate attacks on a candidate's character with the sole purpose of trying to win votes pro-American? Is someone who chooses a vice-president with the aim of trying to pick up a few Hilary supporters' votes rather than pick one that is capable of leading the country in the let's be honest not-so-unlikely event of his death pro-American? I plead with you Americans, please pick Obama, McCain is not the way forward.

    October 22, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  17. marie - ohio

    He was only telling the WHOLE TRUTH........................................
    Remember this is a FREE COUNTRY with FREE SPEECH. Isn't it?

    October 22, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  18. Jill-IN

    There is nothing wrong with being a Democrat;many Democrats are centrists just as many Republicans of years past. I have voted Republican most times in my life (am now 60) but I for one can't figure out how our party changed to what it is today. I think the righteous rightists who have seized the GOP should quit all the mud slinging and name calling and devisive tactics that they have become so good at in the past few years.

    October 22, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  19. T. A.

    Would someone please define "a real American" with rational support?

    October 22, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  20. phil

    at least mccarthy bothered to justify his moronic witch hunt in some sort of way, but it appears that mr hayes, like mr mccain, lacks the eloquence to be able to dress up his trite comments in any meaningful way. well pal, if you are a 'real american', then you're right, i can't stand you – however, as i'm a liberal i will defend, to the death, your right to say it.

    October 22, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  21. steve


    October 22, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  22. J.S.

    I think his comment came out wrong BUT Degrees do not make a person have any more common sense and common courtesy. Blogs on the Democrat campaign side seem to imply people aren't very smart unless they have been to Harvard, Yale or Princeton.

    October 22, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  23. Liberal

    This man is SOOOOOOOOOOOO ignorant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Obama/Biden 08/12!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 22, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  24. Rob

    Its true, just look take a look at the, how much was gas 2 years ago?...under $2 a gallon. How was the housing market, how was the economy? When democrats took over congress they ran this country down..This is America not a solicalist country. If you want to live in a socalist country call Hugo Chavez, I'm sure he would love to have you. We can not let Obama win, he will ruin this country and turn it into a solicalist country. Look at his policies and look at venezuela there the same.

    October 22, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  25. Kathy

    I work, pay taxes and believe in God. AND I am a liberal!! Just like the founding fathers of our country. The conservatives were the loyalist. MR Hayes you are the Anti-American in the group. Anti-Americans try to spread hate throughout our country by spouting off crap, just like you, McCain and Palin.
    BTW – Is someone going to tell Palin what the VP does???

    October 22, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
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