May 28th, 2009
10:22 PM ET
13 years ago

Top Republican calls Limbaugh, Gingrich comments 'terrible'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Cornyn on Thursday said statements calling Sotomayor a racist are 'terrible.'"]

(CNN) - A top Senate Republican is taking aim at recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich suggesting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.”

Both the popular radio host and former GOP House Speaker have suggested Obama's pick for the high court is  a racist while referencing a 2001 speech at Berkeley during which Sotomayor said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Related: In her own words: Sotomayor's 'Latina' speech

"Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman.' new racism is no better than old racism," Gingrich wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

"Here you have a racist – you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist," Limbaugh said the day before on his radio program.

Senate Republicans meanwhile have largely withheld judgment on Sotomayor, though many - including Cornyn - have taken issue with some of her past statements and rulings.

"We are all a product of our upbringing and who we are and I think it’s a fact people do have different backgrounds, but I don't think those background ought to determine what the law is," Cornyn said to NPR of Sotomayor's Berkeley comments.

The NRSC chief also brushed off the Limbaugh and Gingrich statements while noting neither man holds an elected office.

"Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials. I just don't think it’s appropriate. I certainly don't endorse it. I think it’s wrong," he said.

Filed under: Extra • John Cornyn • Newt Gingrich • Rush Limbaugh • Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. Matt

    Very nice comment, Senator. Thank you for noting that these are self-appointed talking heads, not elected officials.

    And like another reader said, I'm sure they'll be going after you next.

    May 28, 2009 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  2. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    CORNYN needs to just keep talking and then step up and change parties .
    it would show he really means what he says about the idiots that can't shut up about anything and everything the President is trying to do.
    and he's right about them they are not in any political job or have any resposability to anyone but themselves .. sounds like personal greedy twits to me .. repubs are me myself and I .. and MONEY MONEY and threats ,and and and .. it goes on and on

    May 28, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  3. Bo

    Remember, Cornyn is from Texas. This wasn't political courage on his part. This was him being able to understand the demographic trends in his state and not wanting to alienate Hispanic voters with long memories. Still, it was the right thing to say.

    May 28, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  4. Ed

    Anyone, and I mean ANYONE that makes a judgment about a person based on their race, is a racist. There should not be a double standard in ANY case. If it was wrong then, then it is wrong now. Stop making excuses.

    May 28, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  5. Michael

    My birthday is coming up soon, my only wish is that Obama would sign an executive order to extradite Rush from the country never to return again.

    My fingers are crossed!

    May 28, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  6. Son of G Dubb

    Rush the drug addict and Gingrich the newt are only protecting their huge bank accounts by feeding the Golden Goose, the republican base.

    May 28, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  7. TWetz

    Isn't in fact REFRESHING to see these Republican stalwarts–Rush, Gingrich, Tacredo, etc.–get all incensed at perceived racism??? Funny, though, I don't ever recall any of them being so incensed before–when racism was directed at minorities. But hey, turn that racism around and try to aim it at white people, and WHOA all of a sudden they are all upset about those no-good racists! Very very transparent! Of course Senator Cornyn is correct!

    May 28, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  8. zivo24

    So typical of the neo-cons.

    When that sentence is read in context with the rest of the speech it is impossible for a sensible person to come to the conclusion that she intended anything untoward with her words.

    She was speaking to a group of Latina lawyers and professionals and simply saying that people of different backgrounds bring very different perspectives to their fields, which is very true.

    It is really pathetic that the neo-cons are trying to spin her words into something they are not. But it's also kind of funny that the worst they can come up with on her is twisting her words and calling her names.

    The world will be a better place when the GOP meets it's timely demise.

    May 28, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  9. Monty Burns, Springfield

    Where is Mr. Steele in all of this? Explaining the Republican approach to the nomination process? Nah, he's probably hiding in the corner, hoping that the lunatic fringe won't ask him his opinion.

    May 28, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  10. videodrome

    Good for you, John Cornyn.
    Although I hope Rush and the bunch don't make you sorry for not agreeing with everything they say.

    May 28, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  11. Black Vet

    Obama gives the jobs to Haspanics and Mexicans that blacks do want. She is not even qualified. Obama is Uncle (Haspanic) Tom

    May 28, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  12. barb

    Rush and Newt would rather have an all white male Supreme Court and call it justice for all! It's sad that they get so much press when they open their mouths.

    May 28, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. Kevin

    White males just continue to be the can that everyone else gets to kick around to make themselves feel better. I'm a liberal, and even I feel Rush wasn't over the line on his comment. White guy says something like that, he would get booed off the stage.

    May 28, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  14. Dee

    PUH-LEASE. CNN, don't you have something better to do than try to make news out of what Limbaugh says, followed by what somebody else says about wehat Limbaugh says?

    Try some NEWS.

    May 28, 2009 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  15. Rumsfeld

    Wow, a repuglican speaks up against the GOP good ole boys. He'll be lead to the sacrificial alter soon. Yes, he will either be forced to apologize or he will be silenced by his party members.

    May 29, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  16. videodrome

    As far as Sotomayor is concerned, if she wants to talk trash and say that some Latinas are smarter than white males....then let her bring it on.
    I know blacks and Asians that are smarter than some of the blue collar white guys I work with....SO??????
    So what??????
    And how many "white males" have lived through the eyes of an African-American or Latino?? I don't any people that own several bodies or identities. So this white person (myself) cannot claim to always be able to walk in someone else's shoes or understand anyone else's background or lifestyle.
    Not that you could pay me to do so, but I believe I have made my point.

    May 29, 2009 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  17. Johnny DC

    She's not a racist. She just thinks Latin women are smarter than white men.

    She can also clean a house better than I can. There I said it. I must not be racist either.

    May 29, 2009 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  18. abozeman

    Unless the GOP wants to be out of power for ever they need to stop and regroup and go after Obama on the money that is being wasted . It's all about the money.

    May 29, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  19. Veronica

    Well, for once, I agree with Cornyn. Good on him for speaking the truth. However, Lush isn't going to like this, one bit ... how long before Cornyn's apologizing?

    May 29, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  20. Julia

    The best thing elected GOP officials could do for their party is to openly and publicly denounce Limbaugh, Coulter, Cheney (and his silly, attention seeking daughter) and Gingrich, fire Michael Steele and close ranks. Absolutely close the door on these folks. And shut out the big mouths in their party. Much of the day to day garbage spewed by these people have alienated millions of voting Americans: Mormons (Michael Steele, et al), gays (most of the conservative pundits), Blacks (the entire party), and Latinos. If they continue to allow these continuous sound bites, these folks will see to the extinction of a Republican electorate.

    May 29, 2009 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  21. Jeff

    Limbaugh needs to stand down. Hes gotten so much into the habit of being a talk radio attack dog, he doesn't know when he's hurting his own party.

    May 29, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  22. Glen in Los Angeles

    It's refreshing to one in power make a cogent remark about irresponsible language by public figures. I enjoy a vigorous debate by mature parties and Cornyn has thrown down a gauntlet, a challenge to the current silliness of Gingrich and Limbaugh.

    May 29, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  23. jason, tx

    Anyone who thinks their background doesn't influence them is living in a different reality. That doesn't exist.

    May 29, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  24. Glen in Los Angeles

    It's refreshing to hear one in power make a cogent remark about irresponsible language by public figures. I enjoy a vigorous debate by mature parties and Cornyn has thrown down a gauntlet, a challenge to raise the bar towards an intelligent discussion of issues. He quashes the current silliness of Gingrich and Limbaugh.

    May 29, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  25. abozeman

    I never met a more clueless group of people in my life. It's a no-brainer she will be confimed. Your best shot to reclaim the white house is to talk about the wasted spending.

    May 29, 2009 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
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