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. zappafan

    You should read the entire quote, because you're completely wrong about what she said. She went on to say that she must set her experiences aside ("check them" i think was how she put it) and decide the case based on the law. She never said or intimated that brown is better than white. I equate it to being left-handed. You can do everything right-handed people can do because you live in a right-handed world, but you have a perspective the majority doesn't. Same with her. She lives in a white male dominated world (*especially* the judiciary) but has experiences they can never have. BTW, summa cum laude at Princeton means "not stupid".

    May 29, 2009 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  2. LW In Texas

    My Senator Conryn has done something right this time, Rush is over the top and way out of line and needs to find a new line of work.

    May 29, 2009 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  3. Gary

    The Republican civil war is about to break out...

    May 29, 2009 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  4. Sick of double standards

    I never thought I'd say this but Newt's analogy is dead on correct. It IS a racist statement. If I white man said something like this they WOULD be run out of town, no question. She is also suspected of racism in her ruling against the New Haven firefighters, which will likely be overturned by the current supreme court. Her recently released editorial from when she was a student accusing Princeton of discrimination is also very troubling. The evidence is mounting that she is a judicial activist with a racial agenda. Cornyn is just being a typical politician, he's scared to death to say the truth and is pandering for the Latino vote. You don't dare criticize any minority as a politician or you are accused of being a racist.

    May 29, 2009 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  5. roy elliott

    Say all you want ...but Russ is NOT afraid to speak his mind. Yes, he represents many of the conservative voters in America. Obama is driving America to SOCIALISM !! The Democrates are always willing to put our money where their mouth is!!We all know that her appointment is assured.....But please let'sall express our concern regarding affirmative action,abortion,illegal immigration and taxes ( redistribution of wealth)

    May 29, 2009 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  6. pa dem

    finally a republican who is showing same kind of smarts.

    May 29, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  7. pa dem

    finally a republican showing some smarts.

    May 29, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  8. arturius knight

    Our backgrounds give us different perspectives as to the interpretation of laws. If not, what's the significance of seeking a balanced court in regards to gender or ethnicity or religion?

    May 29, 2009 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  9. Craigy

    Senator Cornhole can sweet-talk the media all he wants; he is a hardcore partisan intent on keeping Minnesota with one senator as long as possible, ignoring the democratic election results to further his own party's interest.

    May 29, 2009 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  10. Simon

    I'm sorry, when every Republican with a sense of honesty and ethics seems to be castigated by the GOP's leadership, the only conclusion I can come to is that the GOP leadership must be evil. They literally have no capacity for rational thought! At what point does their ignorance of American ideals separate them completely from their countrymen?

    May 29, 2009 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  11. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    The woman IS A RACIST. It's because of spineless handwringers like this that the republican party is in the minority and the dumb-a-crats have free reign to destroy America. He should do the G.O.P a favor and leave it!!

    Keep up the heat, Rush and Newt!!

    May 29, 2009 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  12. SV

    Sotomayer was commenting on the difference her more diverse background would make to a judicial bench dominated by white males.

    If this country had a history of latinas hunting down, beating up and lynching white males, then, perhaps, could Gingbaugh could call her statement racist.

    Otherwise, not so much. Context makes all the difference.

    May 29, 2009 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  13. Cato

    I don't know which is worse. The comments that Limbaugh made or the fact that John Cornyn from my home State of Texas is considered a TOP REPUBLICAN!

    Limbaugh IS an idiot..and I really believe that HE speaks for the Grand Old Petroleum party......

    They allowed George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to 'head' their party for 8 years...they are now being held accountable for all that it entails!

    May 29, 2009 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  14. lysh

    It's become apparent that Gingrich and Cheney are having a popularity contest with the right-wing base. They've become a bunch of cheerleaders with Rush as their captain. These people know they're incredibly unpopular with America and have no chance at holding an elected office, so they've turned to this pathetic form of comradery.

    May 29, 2009 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  15. Dee, NJ

    Newt + Rush = GOP (White Men). Black Man (President USA) + Latio Woman (Supeme Court) = CHOICE!

    May 29, 2009 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  16. God

    So John Cornyn thinks Newt and the Blimpbaugh are irrelevant.

    Tell us something we don't know, John. 🙂

    May 29, 2009 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  17. steve fielder

    "Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials", but they still pack a lot of punch in Republican circles. Rush Limbaugh has 20 million fans and Newt Gingrich is the author of the "Contract with America" that fought to defeat Bill Clinton and succeeded in securing his impeachment. I salute Senator John Cornyn's denouncement of their dishonest tactics and I only hope a lot of Republicans feel the same way!

    May 29, 2009 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  18. greg

    wait on it...tomorrow he'll be told by Lush Rimjob to leave the GOP.

    May 29, 2009 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  19. Bob Pacific Grove, Ca

    Republicans eating their own.....'Ya gotta love it!!

    May 29, 2009 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  20. Jim Barnaby

    I'm 63 years old and have lived in Chihuahua, Mexico in the Barrancas del Cobre seasonally for 33 years. I must say that her statement is right on. White males like Limbaugh and Gringich are so out of touch that they will, only, attract like minded loosers. This country is trying to make changes after these past 8 years and I support these moves to reconciliation with the world community after 8 years of criminals in the White House running the show.

    May 29, 2009 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  21. JimInTenn

    1) Let Rush keep talking. Best thing to happen to the Democratic Party in a very long time.

    2) The GOP does NOT have the votes in the Senate to block her confirmation, so the tactic has to be one of smear, especially so early in the confirmation process.

    3) A CNN reader poll suggests by a margin of 88% to 12% of respondents expect Judge Sotomayor to be confirmed by the Senate as the next Supreme Court Justice.

    4) All this suggests – to me at least – that in the 6 months since the November elections, the GOP still has not found a leader, direction, or become anything more than the Party of "No."

    Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave.

    May 29, 2009 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  22. Zach

    As a republican, I am ashamed to even be associated with Rush. He is arrogant beyond belief and goes way too far. He does not speak for the entire party, and just because someone disagrees with him it does not mean that they should switch to the democratic party. In this day and age you cannot denounce a public figure as a racist with such debatable "proof". The GOP will never return to full strength until Rush is out of the picture.

    May 29, 2009 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  23. Doug

    The GOP is a bunch of spineless people Look at Cornyn, Odf course the democrats want him to say that it makes confirming her easier for them. What we need is more conservatives to run for office and kick these wannabe liberals out of office

    May 29, 2009 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  24. George B.

    In my 56 years on this earth I have never made a statement that could be taken out of context or that I wished I had worded differently. Yes ... I am the perfect man ... and I would expect someone like me ... who obviously can walk on water ... would be confirmed for an important appointment without a hint of partisanship.

    May 29, 2009 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  25. ridosworld

    Still loving how the left fears Limbaugh. Get your own talk radio host to talk about how we Republicans are racist. What was his name? Imus?

    May 29, 2009 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
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