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. Mike

    Yes it does show us how race factors into our society. It shows us Obama is quick to offer a prejudiced opinion when involving a "black/white" issue and assume white on black racism....

    July 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    The GOP hasn't done any work (other than Hatch trying to modify BSC rulings) to help the American People. They sure know how to criticize, whine, and say NO.

    Vote them OUT. They are do-nothing blowhards.

    July 23, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Henry Miller

    It's not so much that the Cambridge police acted stupidly, it's that they acted like authoritarian thugs, bullies determined to exact acquiescence and signs of subordination from Professor Gates. That's just what cops do.

    The GOP isn't doing themselves any favours by endorsing authoritarian thuggery.

    July 23, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. felicia

    PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, is the man he said what is true, you white people have your claws out because you can't except the fact that we have a AA President. You people can say what you will you people are racist.

    July 23, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. DaBird

    When did the President of the US start getting involved in small police matters? Obumbo has no limits. He is a power hungry Potus. Read the police report, the professor started using the race card on his FIRST sentence to the cop.

    July 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. banks

    Seriously I mean u gop gotta be kiddin me right oh wait ur not .just anything to oppose I forgot

    July 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    I am not with the GOP but I question this as well. It is a cheap stunt to draw attention away from his current difficulties with health care reform, war ambitions, etc.

    In difficulty, Umbama is falling back on his campaign strong point: managing public opinion with race and fear.

    July 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Idiot_Pelosi

    Yes, OBUMMER acted STUPIDLY by commenting on something he knows nothing about, which seems to be a pattern.

    The case had NOTHING to do with PROFILING since a NEIGHBOR called the police to report a possible break in.

    Right now,until facts can be clarified, there appears to be more evidence that GATES was the JACKA$$, but NO, Obummer goes off talking about race profiling.

    I hope GATES gets broken into for real, and the COPS don't show up.

    And they say Bush was "DUBYA", well, now we have Obama as "BOZO" the racist clown.

    July 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. James

    This is a can the NRSC does not want to open. Leave it alone.

    July 23, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. Dave

    Obama's thoughts on this are not mistaken, but this communication looks to be a lack of support for police. That isn't a good position for the chief executive.

    July 23, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. JGB

    Obama is making his statements based on his opinion. How much does he really know about the situation? Easy for him to be an arm chair quarterback, but then again he's an arm chair president too!

    July 23, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Jeff Imparato

    Everything Obama said was true, and if the RNC tries to blow this out of proportion, then they are the stupid ones. The police should have left after being shown Gates' ID, end of story.

    July 23, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Independent Again

    Well he is the Messiah right!

    July 23, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. John

    another stupid act by the RNSC. Trying to find anything to bring this man down. Instead of trying to find ways to better this country, while people are losing their jobs, dying due to lack of medical insurance all you guys care about his really stupid things. It does show the lack of brain by some of you in the RSNC. That money could have been used to help some of your own republicans who are out of jobs!!
    You haven't learnt yet that America has rejected you because of your tactics, politics, and your need to defend the few.
    Keep on keeping on and it will take you guys 28 years to come to power again. Oh I forgot, with age, mental capacity decreases too. So I completely understand now why you guys are so irrational and barking like dogs!
    A former republican who is now proud to be an independent.

    July 23, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Ren from Baltimore

    Where were all these Republicans during the Bush and Quayle years????

    Get lost-you lost-so get lost!

    July 23, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. craig

    He was right but it was also politically stupid. Being right does not always help you politically.

    July 23, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. Mike - Chicago, Il

    Although Gates was clearly out of line in how he dealt with the police, and Obama's comment was rather inappropriate, I think we should all let this die instead of making it fodder for race baiters on both sides.

    July 23, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. tee

    Had it been a White man, He would not have been arrested......I don't care how belligerent he became...........Get your head out of the sand.....and this is not playing the race card....its just the way it is......White people are more prone to law suits...........White cops treat white people differently.

    July 23, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  19. anthony

    he didnt say anything that wasnt true. seem like certain member of our society want to believe black, and latinos dont get discriminated more. anyone who think otherwise is stupid.

    i am a proud american mexican but i get stopped by the cops for being mexican. it been going on since i was a teenager. police stop and arrest more minorities than anyone

    July 23, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  20. Nickernacker

    Well, I suppose it is clear now that the GOP has abandoned all pretense of trying to govern and are now just focused on damaging the president, acting like spoiled children.

    I'm sorry, but it WAS stupid to arrest a famous black scholar in his own (private) home for causing a public disturbance. I work with police on a daily basis, and while most are fine human beings, there are a few who are a little too enamored with power, and those are the type who would arrest someone for daring to talk back when being questioned in their own home. Even if that means stepping on a racial landmine and causing a national scandal. This cop's pride made his name mud, and now he refuses to apologize. Stupid, stupid, STUPID!

    July 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. Real Talk

    Unless you have been profiled by the police, which I bet nobody in the GOP has You would not understand the frustration of being treated like a criminal when your just minding your own business. If I was the GOP I would back off of this one and be glad they can't be arrested for adultery and lack of empathy for those mistreated for no apparent reason.

    July 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. George

    Dear Mr. President,
    Keep your nose out of an area you have no business getting it into. The sins of the past do not have any bearing on whether this man was in violation of the law when HE decided to "take on" the police who were doing their responsible duty. Even one of your own race was there for the arrest, so please do not bring up race as the motivating factor in Mr. Gates arrest. Mr. Gates is completely responsible for escalating the situation to the point of an arrest... almost as if he planned it.
    Mr. Gates is correct in saying that a white person would not be arrested in this manner and he is absolutely correct... a white person would have given the police officer his driver license or some other proof of his identity before starting in with charges of racism.
    And shame on CNN for holding this agitator, instigator and racist up as some kind of example for people to model themselves after. SHAME on you CNN!

    July 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. S Callahan

    I think it's best to leave this issue locally.....truthfully..I can understand the homeowner being upset to be questioned in his own home...but when you put it in the perspective that the officer in question was trying to find out if indeed he was the owner or an imposter claiming to be the owner in response to a call to the police of breaking and entry...you just can't really find fault with the officer. In addition, as a citizen the homeowner would have best served to keep a calm disposition and not be on the auto defense...so essentially they both serve blame for the esculation of the incident. Trust me, I am well aware of the boundaries 'some' officers step over in the name of enforcement....but this just doesn't jive that way for me. Am I alone on this thought?

    July 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. What Me Worry?

    What happened in Cambridge between a black scholar and a white police officer is a local issue and can be sorted out locally, over time.

    Unfortunately, our astute president, openly and admittedly ignorant of the facts, took the opportunity to offer his vaunted opinion nevertheless. Nice job, Mr. President.

    This once again illustrates what kind of person we have elected as leader of the most powerful nation on Earth. Here is a man who is tremendously impressed with the sound of his own voice. He must keep his mug in front of either a mirror or a camera constantly. He is also someone who clearly works in very broad brush strokes and not too concerned about what he paints over in his haste. He has demonstrated in this latest ill-advised escapade that if a "brother" and a white man disagree, he'll side with the "brother" every time, no matter what the facts are. Obama: a true disciple of "Reverend" Wright .

    July 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. Neutralizer

    This is the BIGGEST problem of Obambi, he shoot off his mouth without checking facts. Obambi as always use the race card every opportunity he can get. During press conference last night, that was the ONLY question he was asked he showed some life because it was all about race. Obama ABUSE the race card like he abuse and squander faith of the people who voted for him. Like his socialize medicine, he talk about it without knowing what's in that bill; he had done the same thing with STUPID COMMENTS about cops in Massachussetts who were just doing their job and Obama proudly say the guy was his friend. Does his friendship with that arrogant man and being black, makes him above the law? Does Obama believe he's above the law?

    July 23, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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