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. RyanD.

    Be nice if they didn't cherry-pick the quotes.

    I'm slapping Newt if I see him.

    May 29, 2009 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  2. matt

    The truth is if a white male were to express the exact sentiment (in reverse, of course) he would be all but finished as a nominee. Anyone with an ounce of honesty about the situation can see that. However, the truth can't be spoken anymore, only political correctness. Let me continue that cowardly practice and state that my post was not meant to offend any particular race, culture, gender, color, religion or creed.

    May 29, 2009 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  3. truth_does_not_hurt_denial_does

    Obama's strategy is hands down more subtle than the "either you are with us or against us!"

    GOP, Feel helpless yet? Cling on to your guns and religion & you will feel better! 🙁

    May 29, 2009 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  4. ML

    Out of context = Rush & Newt

    May 29, 2009 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  5. Steve

    Hey great job cnn of including her quote out of context. Top notch reporting.

    May 29, 2009 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  6. Born Again Pagan

    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.

    After so many years of oppression on many non-white races, I don't think that wealthy white men should be allowed to play the race card. As a white women, this my opinion.

    May 29, 2009 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  7. NotNowMooky

    Hmm... I'm kind of stunned by this event. A sensible Republican? Please, Senator, don't fall to the Party of Grovel tomorrow. Have some cajones. Good for you.

    May 29, 2009 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  8. chris

    OK, so someone tell me how her comment is not 100% racist.
    Even logically, how can one argue that a minority woman judge a white majority better? Shes racist, and stupid.

    May 29, 2009 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  9. Strom Thurmond

    Say hello to the Hispanic reincarnation of Strom Thurmond! 🙂

    You can't get rid of me! 🙂

    May 29, 2009 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  10. Nestor, Austin, TX

    Senator Cornyn,

    Whether she is a racist is up for debate, but the comment she made IS racist. To say that a Hispanic Woman will make a better decision than a White Man is racist and sexist. Maybe she'll apologize or say she misspoke or whatever, but that comment IS racist.

    May 29, 2009 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  11. Brook Mantia

    You know, by the way Lush Rimbaugh and Newt the Grinch are acting, they pretty much prove her point!

    May 29, 2009 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  12. Shannondoodle

    Oh...and John Cornyn is a leader? Of what? Head of the irrelevant minority party? Well whoop de doo.!!!!!

    May 29, 2009 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  13. L. McBurney

    Why don't you include the full text of her remarks? I think you would find that the interpretation urged by Limbaugh, Gingrich and others is exactly the opposite of what she said and meant. Check out Keith Olbermann from Wednesday if you want the full story. If you want to repeat Republican "talking points" at least check out the context first.

    May 29, 2009 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  14. Dee Dee Lynn

    John Cornyn is just plotting to run for President so he's attempting to make himself appear sane and reasonable. Really, he agrees with the other two lunatics, at least, that's what his record would lead a thinking person to believe.

    May 29, 2009 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  15. Sandra - Illinois

    It is about time that we see a Republican stand up and actually make some sense. I only hope that he does not back down and apologize to these two men. Her statement does not show she is a racist, We all use our background and experiences in making decisions, whether it is a legal or personal. Can anyone imagine either of these men sitting on the supreme court making decisions that effect all of us? I don't listen to Rush, but his radical comments are now heard on all of the networks and he is more than scary. We elect our congressmen to represent us, not two deranged men.

    May 29, 2009 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  16. Nestor, Austin, TX

    MIke May 28th, 2009 10:48 pm ET

    "The sad part is that the Republican response gives the appearance of credibility to ttwo individuals who have little if any significance on this country except among a tiny group of wackos"

    Limbaugh has over 20,000,000 listeners. That's like CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, PBS, NPR and AAR combined. But yeah, just a small group of crazies listen to him.

    May 29, 2009 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  17. Lonestar Wolf

    At least one Republican may have some gumption. They rest are definitely sick and need to fade out of sight or the public's listening area. After all we just wernt through eight years of lies, and tryanny. An economy that will take us years to recover from. All for the fattening of a few Republicans pocket books. I hope you people that voted for these gangsters will take the Kennedys and all connected with them, and Pelosi along with the Republicans and leave this country. Go to Libya. We're sick of you.

    May 29, 2009 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  18. Michael Fallai

    Hard to believe that Sen. Box Turtle is talking sense, and that I agree with him. Can't wait to hear Rush demand an apology from him tomorrow.

    May 29, 2009 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  19. katygirl from tx

    I am pleased that the great senator from Texas finally sounds rational. But don't fool yourselves. He is looking out for himself. Ever notice that there are a few latinas and latinos here in Texas!

    May 29, 2009 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  20. Kent

    Assuming that Supreme Court justices are fairly evaluated and considered to be qualified for the position, then diversity in the Supreme Court should, over time, reflect, at least approximately, the diversity in the population.

    May 29, 2009 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  21. D. Tree

    Newt has lost his mind. Its seems Rush never had one.

    What's next, are these 2 unelected and self-appointed spokesmen going to claim Cornyn is not a "real republican?"

    Newt and Rush are acting like the trolls of the airwaves!

    May 29, 2009 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  22. Alex

    Well, thank god somebody in the GOP has brain.

    May 29, 2009 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  23. WakeMeUpNow

    Cornyn.... I just hope you were sincere about what you said. If you come back asking Rush for forgiveness, I will never trust your words again.

    May 29, 2009 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  24. Richard

    Will CNN please finally run the full quote surrounding Sotomayor's provocative "Latina woman" line. The real context of what she said actually counters the convenient racist charge being disingenuously levied against her.

    May 29, 2009 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  25. mcr

    Gingrich and Limbaugh can crawl back under their rocks now because most of America doesnt really care what they think or say.They are pathetic, and they should just stay under the rock for a long time to come.

    May 29, 2009 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
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