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. SaintDiva

    He meant just what he said.

    October 22, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  2. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    No, we don't hate your favorite type of American, but we DO dislike narrow-minded, intolerant ones like you, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann!

    October 22, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  3. Dave

    It used to be that the Republicans simply didn't think I was patriotic because I disagreed with them. Now, I either follow their narrow-minded policies and religious beliefs, or I'm not even considered a "real American."
    I understand their desperation as the tide turns against them, but comments like this start civil disturbances and potentially worse conflicts.

    October 22, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  4. Tain Barzso

    Views that follow the philosophy of "...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..." are frighteningly reminiscent of McCarthyism. Such either-or or us-and-them philosophies are dangerous to the most basic tenets of a free society. When an entire group of people – in this case, roughly half of all Americans – are labeled as "Anti-American," we are moving into highly volatile territory. In such cases, those jingoists who define "pro" or "anti" often create a society of fear and paranoia, where only those who wave the grandest flags and join the "fight" are spared. It is imperative that all voters really look at the issues – and then their neighbors – and think hard about what it means to be a member of a free society in which all voices are heard and checks and balances are imperative to maintaining a balance of power and freedom.

    October 22, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |

    Well, if the shoe fits........

    October 22, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  6. dean l

    I don't see a problem with the statement. It gets to the point. That's what we need right now instead of the rhetoric we're exposed to constantly. This is political truth time. The truths stated are the basis for our great society which is grounded in part in the defense of our freedom, defense of our family unit against immoral ideals, and the freedom to discuss differences of opinion. Our great nation was not established by men of fear. It is my opinion that we stand by our beliefs and not play down the importance of these vital issues for the sake of hurting the feelings of the monority. Speak up. Good work. Fight on. We, the majority, are with you.

    October 22, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  7. RD

    Backpeddling...it came out of his mouth, he obviously meant it.
    Keep backpeddling, it only hurts you and ruins your credibility.

    October 22, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  8. Ryan

    I believe Robin Hayes is pretty acurate with his statemant. Though I have claimed to be a Democrat most of my life I now don't find myself agreeing with many of the current Democrats beliefs.

    I think they are trying to force overly liberal issue on all of America. For example gay rights. Hey, if you want to be gay be gay, fine, but I don't need to pay for your way of life and I don't need my kids to see it on the TV or taught in school as if it was a normal and benificial way of life.

    The same goes for illegal immigration. I don't want to be told I have to be feel sorry for and open my cities up to every criminal from a third world country...or Mexico.

    Lets get back to promoting common sense in America and that is what Democrats are sorely lacking today. It makes me sick to my somach to see non common sense and no heartland of America issues broadcast by our media as if we all should just roll over and except the leftist lifestyle and beliefs. Which i think are degrading our society.

    October 22, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  9. Lee Patterson

    I just want to point out that there are so many real Americans of the Democratic Party that who would be considered Liberals that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and in every stinking climb and place throughout the history of the United States. It is unfathomable to me to hear this crap coming from people who profess they are the voices of Americans. Liberals, Right-wingers, left-wingers, Libertarians all love this country; each just differs in how they want it run. This crap harkens back to McCarthyism cannot these people discuss the issues. It sounds as though they are saying that if you do not agree with us you are not an American. This is absolutely and totally, crap and most so called Real Americans will see right through this smoke.

    October 22, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  10. Real American

    This is the most ignorant comment ever made. I think the republicans should take the money they have stolen and the lives they've taken and the unjustified wars they have created and false hope and go to another country.

    October 22, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  11. JDC

    Yes. He is exactly right.
    And liberals like to tell us other countries hate us. What they don't tell you is those countries are screwed up from socialism and we are still trying to defeat it....have not succumbed to this evil as yet. But Obama will seal our fate, too!

    October 22, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  12. Watching from NC

    Sure, it's real American to make statements which are divisive and antagonistic for the sake of getting elected. And it's also real American to pray for those with whom you don't agree to be silenced by the Almighty (as was done recently by a minister prior to a Palin rally in Greenville, NC) ... so much for that quaint American tradition of freedom of speech.

    October 22, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  13. jane in Columbus,ks

    This idiot symbolizes exactly what is wrong with the republican party today and exactly why they re on their way to a crushing Nov defeat. Don't know who his opponent is but I sure hope people donate vigorously to their campaign to send yet another message to yet another republican that WE, the PEOPLE, are taking back our beloved country and that being liberal doesn't mean we are welfare seeking atheiests

    October 22, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  14. Dean in Florida

    This man is absolutely correct...no need to apologize.

    October 22, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  15. Truth Hurts

    This is the reason why the conservatives are known for dividing!! They talk about comments made by the Liberals but they always are questioning other people character and patriotism. They act like they are the only ones who love America. If the conservatives loved America so much they would have more love in their hearts towards other's. This is one of the reason they are losing because they are dividers.

    October 22, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  16. Fred

    For a group of people who are supposed to be focused on religion and family values, Republicans have been saying a lot of mean things lately. The party of hypocrisy.

    October 22, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  17. Carolina Tarheel

    I just voted for Rep. Hayes' OPPONENT Mr. Hayes' came from a family (Cannon Mills - think Cannon towels) who gained their wealth from the hard working textile workers. Now those textile plants are closed and buildings have been torn down in Concord & Kannapolis, NC - those jobs went overseas! I know because I live here and I'm mad! My 91-year old WWII veteran father who is now totally dependent on in-home care - provided by my 89-year old mother and 60-year daughter - draws a HUGH $53 Cannon Mills pension. Mr. Hayes is the 5th wealthest politician sitting in Washington and has the nerve to make his comments!:!

    October 22, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  18. T'SAH from Virginia

    MY how THEY put their foot in their mouth and then try to explain what they really mean. THAT OINE meant what he said and he should leave it at that. REPUBLICANS feel they are "GOD's GIFT on EARTH and they are the only ones going to heaven. REMEMBER – Jesus was a LIBERAL and He was of ALL COLORS (not what you see in movies)!!!!

    OBADEN 2008-2016!!

    October 22, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  19. Boston Guy

    "Rep. Robin Hayes, ..............., first denied making the remarks, but conceded Monday afternoon that he was accurately quoted".

    This just proves that he is a liar just like the rest of the Republicans. Nothing about McCain and Palin and the Republican party is honest.

    Why do the Republicans claim to represent morals but lie about everything?

    October 22, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  20. imjoy36

    Oh, please! This is the kind of garbage that brings our political process down to the level of teenage Dave Matthews Band fans, arguing about who is a 'real' fan. We all love this country, but for reasons that are as diverse as its people. America is about embracing this diversity ... NOT about divisiveness.

    October 22, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  21. Roger

    What can be said? It's the same politics of hate and division perfected by Rove and our "uniter not a divider" president. What a joke. Big city, small town, blue or white collar, gay or straight, christian, muslim or athiest...we are ALL Americans and God bless us.

    October 22, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  22. Jared

    I'm curious – do any "conservatives" actually know what the definition of a liberal is? And how did the word "liberal" turn into a curse word? If Americans want to see real liberals and/or socialists...look at EVERY SINGLE OTHER COUNTRY in the G8. American "liberals" and Democrats would make up right-wing parties in most of our friends' countries.

    October 22, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  23. Shane

    First he says, ""Liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God," then he says, "make sure we don't say something stupid."

    It's okay, Rob. If it sounds like a staggeringly stupid and inane (not to mention ironic) thing to say, you can always blame the media for "distorting" your remarks.

    The party of hatred and hypocrisy needs to be thrown out on its ear on election day.

    October 22, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  24. Effero

    Typical Republican response. Lie about what you said, get called on it, then say it came out the wrong way.

    October 22, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  25. Phyllis

    I am not real American? What? My grandfather was in the Army...fighting for the US. (Maybe that is not America?) My husband was in the Army during the US/Vietnam conflict. (Maybe that is not representing America as I supported him?) My oldest brother was in the US Navy during the Cold War between US/Russia. (Maybe he was not American either!) My youngest brother was in the Air Force during Vietnam/US Conflict. (He was in for a whopping 12 years, so I doubt that was showing American patriotism.) My daughter has been in the US National Guard in Afghanistan and I sent her a care package every other week WITHOUT FAIL! using my own dollars. But I am sure that was not American of me. Now, my Daughter is in Iraq, supporting GEORGE BUSH'S FAILED POLICIES AND DIPLOMACIES AND GREED FOR OIL! and I send her and her friend a care package every other week. But, I am sure that is not American of me to do that. Oh, no! I am a Democrat who has already submitted my ballot for Barack Obama. But then, because I have only paid my taxes for the last 40-years of my working life and donate to various American causes, but vote Democrat, then I am not American. How much more slime can we expect from Republicans this year? I say they are not Americans but Divisionists! Listening to Republicans, one would think only Republican soldiers are serving in Iraq/Afhanistan or other areas. Got new for you Republicans, there are REAL AMERICAN DEMOCRATS SERVING IN THE ARMED FORCES!

    October 22, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
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