July 23rd, 2009
05:35 PM ET
13 years ago

First on the CNN Ticker: GOP questions Obama's police criticism

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/23/art.obama07235.gi.jpg caption="The NRSC will place a national Web ad Thursday questioning President Obama's criticism of Massachusetts police department."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Republicans will place a national Web ad Thursday calling into question President Obama's decision to criticize a Massachusetts police department for arresting a Harvard professor at his own home.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm for the Senate GOP, is paying for the ad that asks people whether it is appropriate for Obama to say that the Cambridge Police "acted stupidly" for arresting scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Gates was charged with disorderly conduct after reacting angrily when police arrived at his house after receiving a call that a break-in was taking place. On Tuesday, the charges against Gates were dropped. Obama was asked about the incident during Wednesday's nationally televised news conference, and he acknowledged that he may be "a little biased" because of his friendship with Gates.

"But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

The incident, Obama said, shows "how race remains a factor in this society."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama did not regret using those words, but sought to clarify that the president "was not calling the officer stupid."

"The situation got out of hand," Gibbs said.

A Republican official tells CNN that the NRSC is buying a Web ad that will run on the Drudge Report asking people if Obama's remarks were "presidential."

"This isn't taking sides between the police officers and Mr. Gates," NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh told CNN. "It is the issue of whether it is appropriate for the President of United States to be weighing in and taking sides before, by his own admission, all the facts are known."

Walsh, who denied this was a political maneuver, said people who click on the ad will be directed to the NRSC Web site to record their thoughts.

"Unlike the president, we are not taking sides here," Walsh said. "He is the commander- in-chief. Is it appropriate for him to prejudge a legal matter when he doesn't know the facts?"

In addition, the NRSC will issue a news release this afternoon in an attempt to pressure Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, to "speak out" on the matter.

While Walsh said the NRSC is not seeking to politicize the issue, it does ask people to donate to the NRSC. And it is an opportunity for the NRSC to collect email addresses for future political undertakings such as fundraising.

Filed under: NRSC • President Obama
soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. gc3333

    D'ohbama should have read his teleprompter before responding to this question. Unfortunately for him, his response exposes his own racial bias and his arrogance and lack of experience as an elected official in dealing with such sensitive issues. As Hillary said last year, his only qualification for the presidency is that he "gave a speech". He has proven her to be 100% right.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. Travis

    But I think it's fair to say, No. 1 You don't have the facts. No.2 This has nothing to do with you. No.3 Your premature comments make you sound stupid. If he was being belligerent to a police officer he deserved it. How can you play the race card when you don't have the facts. He should have been happy his neighbor even cared.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. John W. Olver

    Once Prof. Gates showed his ID the police should have apologized for the bother, explained they were doing their jobs and left. No matter how angry Prof. Gates was, he was in his own home and once that was known the police had no further business with him.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. SKF

    It's long passed due that we have "someone"... especially our President that doesn't turn the other cheek to the wrongs our police officers are capable of and have been allowed to get away with for far too long throughout America! If our police officers aren't doing anything wrong then they have nothing to worry about do they?!

    I don't know of anyone who doesn't know of someone with a story of out-of-hand and rampant injustice and corruption in our criminal justice system! May this be a wake-up call of saying ENOUGH!

    Eugene, Oregon

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. Thomasr

    The cop should be fired immediately. If it were a right wing white guy the republicans would be pissed off. The republican party is a racist organization and will continue to pay dearly from all minorities in this country.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. lucy

    So now the GOP is openly racist. I'm not surprised. I just wonder how many Jesse Helms they think they can elect in this century?

    Who wouldn't be furious if a policeman ordered them out of their own home, especially a policeman who already knows that they do actually own it? How can you create a "public disturbance" on your own front doorstep? Isn't the GOP supposed to be the strict constitution party? What happened to the part about protection from unreasonable searches and seizures?

    I would have expected an immediate appology for the policeman's error, not further harrassment. Regardless of color.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. tom

    There are 2 kinds of cops. Those who want to help and protect people and those who were your class bully.Which one stopped the professor I do not know. He said, he said. Pick a side chances are if you are white you will pick the white guy.If you are black you will pick the black guy. Now blame the president for being black.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Chris

    Don't worry about the facts Mr. President.
    Just like your health care plan.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |

    One would thing that the replublicans would have more pressing issues on their plate right now.

    July 23, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. Kate David

    I wish that decision makers could focus primarily on issues of importance to masses.
    Stop politicizing and be reasonable for ones.

    Your attitudes are becomibing irritable and more importantly is racial behaviors are more glaring than ever before.

    Power is not a do or die matter. You have lost your credibility recently

    Shame on you!!

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. T Mckinley

    The Dow has just risen above 9000, housing sales have been rising for three consecutive months, and the GOP is criticizing the President for THIS?

    Why do people vote for these IDIOTS?

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Daniel

    If Obama wants to see stupidity then he only needs to watch himself making his comments. Totally uncalled for. He needs to remember that he is the President of The United States of America. Our police need to be praised not called stupid. The Professor should apologize to the police in my opinion.

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. Saramago

    This is not a political issue or a race issue – this is an issue of misjudgment... President Obama appears to be having a few lapses of judgment since taking office. It was absolutely wrong for Mr. Gates to treat a law enforcement officer the way he did; equally wrong was the fact that president Obama actually passes judgment on "all police officers" in America based on a friendship – perhaps Mr. Obama ought to choose his friends wisely. President Obama seems to always choose friends who are either terrorists (terrorist Ayers), bigots (Rev. Wright), or overall trouble makers and not have the best interest of the country at heart. It would be nice for Mr. Obama to befriend a war veteran, or someone who is a patriot. Obama and Gates are both guilty as charged – lack of judgment!!!!!

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. LaT'erica

    I know why CNN loves Obama. CNN got a bailout. OK- Thanks.

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Bruce

    1. He was IN his own home, he was OUTSIDE.
    2. He blew up at police before they even had a chance to establish who he was.
    3. Minorities get stopped not disproportionately. They get stopped because they are violating the law. I get sick and tired of people playing the race card when it is their own actions that cause the problems most of the time.

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. babs in cali

    sorry, folks. He's right. they did act stupidly.

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. WDLS

    It is very unfortunate that one of our great Black scholars was unjustly arrested. Given the negative history that U.S. law enforcement has with the Black and Latino community, I think our President's comment was accurate. Officers need to follow the proper protocol before making "hasty" decisions.

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. Rob

    And Obama is proving that race is now a factor in his belief of whois right and who is wrong based on race. He made a factual statement that he is a personal friend of Gates and that the cops had to be wrong and that he stands by the notion that Gates was arrested for being black. So now he pulled race into the white house when he claimed race has no issue. What issue does he have no issue with now?

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. D From Ohio

    President Obama is right about what he said. The police should have left once they realized their error. A man in America will always be judged by the color of his skin. Racial prejudice is still in practive all over our wonderful country. It would be foolish of us as Americans to pretend that it is not. We need stronger laws against racial prejudices. A black man living in that neighborhood whats wrong with that?

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Ken S.

    I voted for President Obama and I feel he will be one of our greatest President of all times; however using this situation as an example of a racial incident merely adds to discrimination practiced by both black and white racists. To take such a stand as President, implies that he ,and the other politicians who joined him, are only paying lip service to the Law Enforcement Officers who have given their lives to protect us as citizens.

    If I was confronted by a police officer in the same situation I would have thanked him for not only protecting my property but facing the "crazies" he encounters daily. A smart mouthed professor has no more right to confront an officer than any other citizen.

    July 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Hugo

    Well, well, well, now you see the racism evidence itself at the highest levels of our Nation office. I wonder what Sotomayor would say in a civil rights case against President Obama's race biased comments? This is exactly why someone as racially biased as Sotomayor should not be put in a position to determine law in our country. I think White America is finally waking up to the lop sided society we helped create!

    July 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. King of Sactown

    Obviously the GOP is looking for any way to make Obama look like a bad president. I find it hilarious that they are trying to decide what he can and cant say. Go waste your time and energy on something better GOP. Your making me SICK! Also, what about all the ridiculous things that W. would say. They never (obviously) criticized Bush for any crazy stuff he said.

    July 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  23. jerry

    Unbelievable that the repugnicans could imagine criticizing Obama's very appropriate words. The only action more stupid than the police's is the GOP's. blatantly racist appeal. They go on about resisting governmental intrusion into their lives, but think it's just dandy to arrest a black man in his own home for burglary. The best of them is not fit to wipe the feet of Professor Gates.

    July 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  24. VAisforLovers

    Any attempt to capitalize politically.. if Obama passes gas the wrong way, someone will make it political!

    July 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Billy Harkins

    I'm not surprised, this is the Obama who when asked if he would subject his own children to the same Healthcare Plan he sought for everyone else, said I would want my children to get the best healthcare possible. Ah it must be nice to be rich and above everyone else.

    July 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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